“Wild and Wonderful” West VirginiaApril 28, 2016
“Wild and Wonderful” West Virginia offers a plethora of activities for its visitors. West Virginia’s rugged terrain was formed by the Appalachian Mountains and was nicknamed the “Mountain State.”
See the Wild
In a place as wild as Marion County, one would expect to find some animals zooming about the terrain. As a result, the county is home to several centers dedicated to animal care and education.
Pricketts Fort State Park hosts annual Bird Walks Saturday mornings in the early spring. This is an opportunity to learn from the professionals. There is also an observation deck jetting into the Monongahela River to allow birders to get close to the water fowl. Make sure to wear sturdy walking shoes and bring binoculars if you have them!
In the fall, you have the opportunity to learn more about the Northern American Saw Whet Owl (NASWO) as these tiny creatures migrate through Valley Falls State Park. Birding professional and author, Joey Herron sets up an observation and banding station so these owls can be studied more closely. Since owl are nocturnal, you’ll be coming to the park at night so be sure to bring a flashlight.
Coming Soon! Morris Park is in the process of building a Birding & Nature Center. This will include a bird watching sanctuary, a hummingbird and butterfly display, and a working beehive that will be encased in glass.
With all that roaming, accidents do happen. Luckily Bunner Ridge has been home to the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center since 1994. The Raptor Rehab Center has taken care of those sick, orphaned and injured creatures most often injured by moving vehicles.
A variety of wild animals can be seen in the Dent’s Run Wildlife Management Area just outside of Mannington. The WMA, which is primarily forested, will provide hunting opportunities for deer, wild turkey, squirrel, waterfowl and other game species. In addition, a 30 acre impoundment provides the public with warm water fishing opportunities.
Enjoy the Wonderfully Unique
Marion County is full of creative and unique attractions, like the Telephone Museum. This is a tribute to telephone history that showcases various switchboards, pay phones, booths, test boards and cable displays. You can show the little ones “where it all began.”
For architect enthusiasts, the Barrackville Covered Bridge is located in Barrackville and is second oldest covered bridge in West Virginia.
The Hamilton Round Barn, once a dairy barn, has old-fashioned tools and farming equipment dating to the early 1900’s. Enjoy the acoustics of the “roundness” this summer during their Back Roads & BBQ concert series.
The buildings are representative of West Virginia’s intrinsic beauty and charm, a testimony to the craftsmanship of their builders.
Take on the Wonderful Waters
While hanging out on land is great, perhaps you enjoy getting your feet wet.
Curtisville Lake and Campground offers 695 acres of beautiful scenery. Around the 30-acre lake, there are hiking trails, camping sites, and picnicking areas. The campground offers both primitive camping as well as trailer and RV hookups – both come with fire rings and wood. The lake has other fun amenities, which include playground, shelter, trailhead, and a quaint footbridge.
Palatine Park is beautifully situated along the bank of the Monongahela River in the downtown Fairmont. This park provides the perfect place for playing at the Splash Pad, peaceful walks and access to the river for boating and other water sports. The park also has several free summer concerts and movies.
Worthington Park situated along the West Fork River, is another great fishing hole. This 10-acre waterfront park stocks several kinds of fish, including: hybrid bluegill, catfish, and largemouth bass. Other fun activities include softball, basketball, pavilion, horseshoe courts and several picnicking areas.
The rapid falls of the Tygart River, known as Valley Falls, are found here in this 1,145-acre day use park. Enjoy sunning on the large flat rocks along the river’s edge. The park features picnic tables, pavilions, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, game courts as well as a playground. Definitely one of West Virginia’s most wild and wonderful attractions!
Stand in Awe at the Wild Historic Sites
West Virginia played a major role in Civil War and early American history. One such site is Prickett’s Fort, a former settler refuge from Native American war tribes, visitors can experience life in the frontier days by touring the fort and watching demonstrations. In addition to an extensive calendar of events, the fort will be exhibiting WV made rifles throughout the summer. Many of these handcrafted weapons have never been by the public.
Trace the role Marion County played during the Civil War by following the six trail markers scattered throughout the county.
Fairmont Downtown Historic District is a national historic district includes 97 late-19th and early 20th century architectural style buildings and two contributing structures in Fairmont’s central business district. Learn more by following this walking tour.
The High Gate Carriage House is a Tudor Revival style home built in 1912. It belonged to the coal baron, James Edwin Watson. Watson’s estate once hosted President Taft’s visit and the Tiffany Cup Tennis Championship, among other historic events. A summertime favorite at the mansion is the annual Tomato Festival.
The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center is located on the campus of Fairmont State University and is dedicated to the identification, preservation, and perpetuation of our region’s rich cultural heritage. The building was once a historic apartment building, known as the Kennedy Dairy Barn. It was built about 1900 as a barn and modified to its present form about 1942. The upstairs of the building includes artifacts of the college’s history and of local folklore.
Once the Marion County Children’s Shelter, this Works Progress Administration (WPA) building now houses the Marion County Visitor Center. In 2001, this historically significant structure was dismantled then reassembled on the Gateway Connector.
The Marion County Courthouse is a Beaux-Arts style building in downtown Fairmont. The courthouse was constructed from 1897 to 1900, and was designed by the architectural firm of Yost & Packard of Columbus, OH. The magnificent dome is topped by a figure carrying the scales of justice.
The courthouse is adjacent to the American Foursquare-style sheriff’s residence that now houses the Marion County Historical Society and Museum. Both were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The courthouse features three magnificent murals. Sometime in the late 1800s, when the courthouse was under construction, three murals were placed on the third floor of the structure. One of the
murals depicts David Morgan of the famous Morgan clan fighting Native Americans. One of the other murals is a representation of industry in the area while the other portrays agriculture.
Where do you find your Wild and Wonderful in Marion County?