Almost Heaven? Pocahontas County has five state parks
SHEPHERDSTOWN — King Coal doesn’t live in West Virginia any more.
Tourism has gladly accepted the scepter from the mining industry and brings hundreds of millions in revenue to the state.
The glass industry, steel production in the Northern Panhandle and chemical plants along the Kanawha River are all talked about by golden agers, who remember the years when the state could provide those heavy industry jobs.
And now it’s the outdoors and the state-wide scenic beauty that help employ many state residents.
Rural and rugged Pocahontas County leads the state and its 55 counties with its five state parks, plus other attractions saved from years ago in the highlands.
Watoga is the state’s largest state park. An 11-acre lake is an attraction in that area where one of West Virginia’s first Civilian Conservation Corps camps was built in 1933.
The Greenbrier River Trail winds its way through a 76-mile swath of forested land that once led the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad line between Cass and Caldwell.
A section of the trail also goes through Greenbrier County, and can be traversed by the adventuresome on bikes or on horseback.
A Civil War battle took place at Droop Mountain. Now called Droop Mountain Battlefield, it was the first state park established in West Virginia, in 1935.
Visitors can stop at a museum there or look upward at the tall wooden observation tower that was erected by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The Cass Scenic Railroad chugs along rails that were once used to haul logs from the forests to saw mills in the area. The Cass slowly rises in the mountains to Bald Knob, West Virginia’s second-highest point. The state has restored 13 company houses in the town of Cass. Rental units are offered park visitors, and the Cass Country Store gives an idea of how things were almost 100 years ago.
Beartown has trails that have many narrow openings in the rock formations and boulders. The sometimes crumbling rock faces are part of the “Droop Sandstone” area, which also sends the visitors into Greenbrier County at times.
If the out-of-state tourists don’t find a state park in Pocahontas County to their liking, they can also stop at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center or visit the well-known Green Bank Telescope, which at 485-feet tall is larger than the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
The Durbin Rocket railroad line was built in 1910 and covers 10.5 miles at a leisurely pace for its round trip. Lunch and dinner can be bought on the Rocket.
Author Pearl Buck was born in Hillsboro, where her birthplace can be toured.
The Pocahontas County Opera House is home to blue grass music, gospel renditions and country music alike.
Snowshoe, West Virginia calls snow skiers to its highland destination at appropriately named Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
Also located in Snowshoe, West Virginia is the Silver Creek ski resort.
Coal is but an industrial shadow of its once mighty underground operations
Now it’s tourism that beckons to those wanting to find clean streams, scenic overlooks and outdoors activities to fill their recreational time.