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Wild and Wonderful: I-64 in West Virginia

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West Virginia was “born of a nation divided”. It was originally the western part of Virginia but at the onset of the Civil War the eastern and western sides of the state began to argue over secession from the union. The eastern half wanted to secede and become part of the Confederate States of America while the western half remained loyal.

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Western Virginia became the area for the first campaign of the Civil War. Both sides knew the value of western Virginia because of the railroads, farming, and mining potentials of the area so Union General George B. McClellan ordered the Department of Ohio to cross the Ohio River and secure western Virginia for the union. Through many battles the union finally succeeded and West Virginia became a state in 1863 (this is the only permanent map change that resulted from the Civil War).

West Virginia has been known for the Hatfield and McCoy feud that ran along the borders of West Virginia and Kentucky in the late 1800s as well as the disputes within the coal mining industry in the early 1900s. The railroads, mining, and farming that fueled the fight over this land did become prosperous, not only for West Virginia, but for the nation as a whole.

Today, West Virginia is one of the greenest, most beautiful states. Anyone who enjoys nature will enjoy driving through this state. Not only have the people of West Virginia preserved the beauty of the mountains, they have also preserved their history.

I-64 runs along the upper part of the southern region. This area is host to Sandstone Mountain, the Hatfield and McCoy Trail, Civil War Trail, and the Coal Heritage Trail. Sandstone Mountain rises to 2765 feet and overlooks spectacular mountain views. The Hatfield and McCoy Trail spans 500 miles with Native American culture, history of the historic feud, as well as a visit to the Hatfield cemetery where a life-size marble statue of “Devil Anse” stands. The Coal Heritage Trail is where the Upper Big Branch Miners’ Memorial is found.

For the sports minded there are more than a dozen state parks where there is swimming, hiking, hunting, biking, caving, skiing, and golfing. There is class I – V rafting in the rivers and off-road riding for all levels across the trails. No matter the outdoor sport, it can be found in the hills of West Virginia, or simply just drive through. The beauty and majesty of the area across I-64 is breathtaking.

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