West Virginia December 11, 2017
This Super Unique Museum Hiding In The West Virginia Capital Is Literally A Trail Through Time
If you happen to be visiting the state capital in Charleston, there is a hidden gem waiting beneath one of the buildings in the capitol complex, and you may not be aware it even exists until you stumble upon it. But once you do, you will find one of the most unique museums in the entire state.
On the west side of the capitol building sits The Culture Center, operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. There is no charge to experience everything the center has to offer.
Once inside the building, you will find the Archives and History Library. Delve a little bit deeper and you will find an escalator near the back, leading underground. Once you follow it down, you will find some very cool artifacts from the past, such as the personal belongings of the legendary outlaw William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. Investigate further and you will find a museum unlike any other in West Virginia.
The West Virginia State Museum is an indoor trail that recreates the history of West Virginia, from before the appearance of man to the present day.
When you first enter the darkened trail you will feel a sudden cool breeze and hear the sounds of wildlife in a prehistoric coal forest. Ancient flora lines the walls around the trail, interspersed with natural artifacts from that time period. On the trail at your feet, a marker denotes that the time period you are entering is 300 million B.C. After a moment, a voice can be heard over the sound effects, as a narrator tells you about ancient West Virginia, untouched by man.
Just around the corner you will find the first human beings.
Follow the winding trail and you will encounter the first civilizations of men. Travel further into the colonial era to find an old log cabin and experience frontier life in the state, not yet West Virginia. Beyond that is the Civil War period. In this area, you will hear the sounds of war, the explosion of cannons and scenes of life in that time. Every step of the way, the path marks the time period, showcasing authentic artifacts as the announcer explains the history of the time period you just entered. Linger for a moment and the dialogue will loop, in case you missed anything. Along the way, history videos will be displayed, giving you greater insight to the time period you are in.
Further long, the modern west begins to take shape.
As you continue along, you will find yourself in the Old West. You will come upon a general store typical of the time period and learn more about life in postbellum West Virginia. As you progress further, you will begin to see the world you know begin to emerge. You will discover West Virginia’s part in World Wars I and II and you'll enter a dark coal mine amidst the sound of dripping water.
But the Journey is not over yet.
Next, you will find a 1950’s era diner, and around the corner, a stretch of interstate with an iconic barn advertising Mail Pouch Tobacco off to the side. Power poles, overgrown with ivy, line the road. Look closely and you will see raccoons peering back at you from the shadows.
Beyond that, you will witness the final decades leading up to the present.
Markers of modern West Virginia will pop up, culminating with the final walk along a narrow hall lined with portraits of notable figures in recent history.
Once you come out the other side, you will have viewed more than 6,000 artifacts and will find yourself much more knowledgeable about the state you live in and how it has changed over the last 300 million years.
The Culture Center
1900 Kanawha Boulevard E.
Charleston, WV 25305
West Virginia State Museum Hours: Tues – Sat: 9am – 5pm. Sun: 12pm – 5pm
Mon: Closed, except for the first Monday of each month
Have you ever been to this museum? Do you know of any other attractions folks should know about? Comment below and let us know.
To learn more about places to visit in West Virginia, check out
these 10 cool attractions.