On Friday July 1, 2016 we drove north on I-79 out of Charleston, West Virginia and took the scenic route up over the Appalachian Mountains, winding mountain roads, small towns and lots of green everywhere and many trees we have never seen before and have no idea what they are.
We took the interstate north till we got to highway 33 and went east and stopped in a couple of places. One thing that is so interesting is you cannot see very much into the woods, not at all like in Wyoming or Colorado. The brush and undergrowth is very thick. It would be hard not to get lost in the woods, I can only imagine back when explorers pushed west they had to follow rivers and creeks so as to not get lost. Truly, West Virginia is as they claim very ‘wild and wonderful’ in its mountains and natural wonders and lack of cities. It may not have the elevation we have out west but some of the scenes and mountains are just as rugged as some of the mountains west. Remarkable how steep some of the roads and passes were. Some towns are in canyons or gullies where yes a flash flood could take them out; and there is steep hills all around.
We stopped in one town called Weston for just a little while. I guess it is the town where Stonewall Jackson grew up. We tried to find the house on short notice but ran out of time. They also have a very old building built before the civil war, Gothic design that was a Lunatic asylum. Now called the Trans -Allegheny Lunatic Asylum formerly known as the Weston State Hospital it served the mentally ill until the mid 1800’s. We saw it from the road but did not have time to tour it. It was an incredible building though.
We also stopped at Seneca Rock which is a rock outcropping which is also a historical area at Seneca Rocks, WV. The rock formations contain quartz sandstone, thus eroding less quickly than the surrounding rocks. It stands 960 feet above the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River. The magnificent outcropping has a whole legend to it as well as lots of natural beauty but I will not tackle that legend today.
The rocks have a lot of climbers but the area was also used by the 10th mountain division for training before and during WWII. During World War II the whole area of the Monongahela National Forest played a key role in training our troops for the war.
At the same historical park there was also a wonderful old homestead that had the old home there. The man Mr. Sites built a log cabin in 1839 and then was added on to and now is a frame house. Interesting. They have planted a number of heirloom plants and a garden there too. It was fun to see the different plants, some of which I had never seen before. One thing of interest there is this orange day lily which is a native plant around here and you see it everywhere. Pretty! I found myself quite interested in the plants back east, so different from what we have out west. I may write more on this later.
The highest point in West Virginia as far as elevation is something around 4,863 feet. The roads some of them are as steep and winding as any in Colorado or Wyoming mountains. Driving with lower gears and so on so what they may lack in elevation does not deter from steepness and dramatic hills. Somewhere yesterday we crossed into the eastern time zone and today we dropped into Virginia.
I really liked parts of West Virginia and only wished we had had more time to explore the lovely mountains and get acquainted with the people who call this area home. Maybe someday I can come again.
We crossed a piece of the beautiful Shenandoah National park and dropped down and eventually ended up in Charlottesville, VA where we stayed the night, with the next stop being Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home.