OK, I must admit, over the years I’ve not really given West Virginia the respect it deserves. Growing up in Maryland, we always heard West Virginia jokes non-stop, and when you drove over the border you could usually tell the difference quite easily. As I’ve gotten older and spent more time in West Virginia, especially golfing at our favorite Cacapon State Park, I’ve come to appreciate the unique characteristics of the state. The motto, Wild, Wonderful West Virginia, is actually pretty close to perfect. There’s an edginess to West Virginia that Maryland and Virginia don’t share.
Driving home from Kentucky today, I again took the Midland Scenic Trail since it only added about 30 minutes to my drive and I’d passed some interesting places I’d wanted to check out on my way back. While Gauley Bridge is famous for one of the worst industrial accidents in U.S. history—when hundreds of miners died of silicosis building the Hawks Nest Tunnel—it’s also quite stunning. With the New and Gauley rivers joining to make the Kanawha River, waterfalls abound. It’s hard to imagine a place of such beauty could be called the “Town of the Living Dead,” as it once was.