On a drive through West Virginia, you will find that the Mountain State has so many wonderful things to offer. Beautiful scenery, rich history, interesting roadside attractions. You can find various museums, monuments, historical markers and so much more. But then there are some that just may be a bit obscure and well, WEIRD. As you meander through West Virginia, here are some of the more unusual ones that might be worth a detour.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Replica Flatwoods Monsters, Flatwoods
You can start your tour of the weird and wonderful in Flatwoods, WV, where you can purchase your very own replica Flatwoods Monster, with a design based upon "eyewitness accounts" of a space creature seen next to a flying saucer in Flatwoods back in 1952. Just go to the Bear Heaven gift shop/Exxon gas station, which is next to the Shoney's. South of Flatwoods, just west of I-79 exit 67, at the entrance to the Flatwoods Factory Outlet Stores. The Flatwoods Monsters are technically not in the gift shop but in the attached gas station convenience store on top of the microwave by the nachos. Not much of an attraction really, but hey, if you need gas and nachos, stop in and give them a look. (Artist's rendition.)
2. Flatwoods Monster Chair, Gassaway
if you didn’t get enough of the Flatwoods Monster in Flatwoods, head on over to Gassaway, WV where you can relive the nightmare of the creature that came from the flying saucer in 1952, by sitting in a giant painted chair. It sits at the north end of town. From Hwy 4 turn right just past the Dairy Queen onto N. Elk St. You'll see the chair ahead on the right. There are five more of them, scattered throughout the county!
3. Hillbilly Marble Maker Sam Hogue, Ellenboro
Sam Hogue is very passionate about his creations. He spent his life working in a glass factory and later progressed to creating these works of art. You can go into his shop and watch him dance to his hillbilly music and make his creations on the spot. Sam's Mountain Marbles can be found on Star Route 83, Old Route 50 at Lee St. A large sign in town points to the studio behind Sam's house.
4. Swiss-themed Village, Helvetia
Swiss traditions and the look of a Swiss mountain village are preserved within the charming town of Helvetia, deep within the rugged terrain of WV. Thankfully, you will find the citizenry in lederhosen only during a festival or event. Check out their annual festival. To get there, head 50 mi. east of I-79 from Flatwoods to US Hwy. 19, follow Hwy. 4 east to County Rt. 11, (heading southeast becomes County Route 46), to Helvetia-Pickens Road.
5. Mummies of the Insane, Philippi, WV
The bathroom in the Barbour County Historical Museum holds an unexpected surprise: two mummies preserved by Graham Hamrick, a local "Dr. Frankenstein" in 1888. The mummies have survived two floods and a century of curious tourists. You can find these curiosities at the Barbour County Historical Museum, junction of US 119 and 250. The Museum is at the south end of the wooden bridge across the Tygart Valley River, on the left.
6. Mothman Museum, Point Pleasant, WV
On 4th Street, across from the Mothman Statue, sits the Mothman Museum, with EVERYTHING Mothman related – movie props, models and a well-stocked gift shop. The Mothman Museum is dedicated to the story and legend of Point Pleasant's Mothman, a mysterious creature first sighted in 1966. It was widely claimed that there were supernatural events related to the Mothman sightings, and a connection to the collapse of the Silver Bridge.
7. Our Lady of the Pines Tiny Church
Just off of Rt. 219 south of the Maryland line in WV, you'll find a wee place of worship, touted as the smallest in 48 states.
8. Mystery Hole, Ansted, WV
Editor's Note: The Mystery Hole is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
The Mystery Hole is located along Rt. 60 in Ansted, WV. The inside of the Mystery Hole is said to defy the laws of gravity. Visitors here can’t quite figure out which way is up or down. You'll see things like balls that appear to roll uphill, water that flows upwards, and chairs that seem to float. Definitely worth a stop if you’re nearby!
9. Huntington Pink Elephant
Next time you’re in Huntington, check out the big pink elephant. Just outside of town, between there and Barboursville, there is a large pink elephant which stands on the westbound side of Route 60. The elephant may remember what it is there for, but most locals don’t know.
10. Stuart's Smokehouse Big Culvert Pipe Weinie, Alderson, WV
Stuart’s Smokehouse in Alderson, WV catches your eye with a big wiener - made of what appears to be a 15-ft. length of culvert pipe crushed on both ends - served on a worse-for-wear canoe bun. Give it a look at 1728 Highland Trail, Alderson, WV.
What are some of the stranger things you have seen on your travels in West Virginia?