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Majestic Mountains      Sometimes called the Mountain State, West Virginia and its rugged topography are the source of natural riches sought by many for centuries. Native Americans inhabited or hunted the state for its wild animals and plants. Colonizers did the same and farmed the land. Salt brine, iron ore, natural gas, sand, and timber spawned some early eighteenth century industrialization.

      By and large, though, the mountains of West Virginia have been a natural impediment to the commerce of people and goods. Entry into Augusta County, which was that part of Virginia west of the Great Valley [now traversed by I-81], was by rivers and gaps in the mountains. The large gaps are few while the smaller ones, called "low places," are common in today's West Virginia.

     Examining a map predating the interstate highway system would show four gaps used as gateways into what was to become West Virginia. US 50 from Winchester, Virginia, through Clarksburg ending at Parkersburg on the Ohio River. US 60 from Richmond to Lexington, Virginia, then on to Charleston and Huntington at the Ohio River. US 460 from Roanoke, Virginia, onward to Bluefield, then to Pikeville and Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. Lastly, US 25 through the Cumberland Gap heading into Lexington, Kentucky. All four routes began as animal trails and were used by Native Americans.

     Other gaps remain as tempting routes for highways. Greenland Gap in Grant County is very close to the proposed route for the Corridor H highway. The gap's beauty is depicted in the August 2000 Wonderful West Virginia magazine.

     In a state song, "The West Virginia Hills," written in 1879, we find this lyrical description of the state's mountains: "How majestic and how grand,with their summits bathed in glory...How I love these West Virginia hills." While small by western standards these mountains give the state the highest average altitude east of the Mississippi River. They are the source of that which mountaineers value - privacy and solitude, unspoiled wilderness, wind-swept vistas, tall hardwood forests, pure streams and rushing waterfalls. Mountains are synonymous with home. 

     To view some of these mountains you can access photos at the following web sites: |  The state's highest mountain is Spruce Knob which highlights the 100,000-acre Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. Details and links are at  and A shaded relief map of West Virginia:
Last updated on Friday, July 27, 2001