the Mountain State, West Virginia and its rugged topography
are the source of natural riches sought by many for
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
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: http://wvnvm.wvnet.edu/...
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 http://wvweb.com/...
A shaded relief map of West Virginia: http://fermi.jhuapl.edu/...
Last updated on Friday, July 27, 2001