Set amidst the mountainous Monongahela National Forest, the historic Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike offers you a rewarding experience that unfolds with every curve in the road. Take the Turnpike across West Virginia, a state steeped in Civil War remnants, and find golden historical treasures all along the way from the upper Shenandoah Valley to the Ohio River.
Forts, Camps, and Battlefields
Enter the byway's east end at the West Virginia-Virginia border, where you’ll encounter a historically rich setting. Camp Allegheny, the field you see just south of the byway, is the very site where Confederate troops attempted to gain control of the route known today as the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. Step off the byway to explore the well-preserved Civil War camp, which became a part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, or head northwest for 15 miles along the Turnpike to reach Cheat Summit Fort, another designated Civil War historic site. While standing in the center of these battlefields, you might just conjure up the haze of gunpowder that must have lingered here on the fateful days of battle.
Follow the byway for about 20 miles and enter into the Beverly Historic District. Set foot in this town, and feel like you’re stepping right into the Civil War era. Make your first stop the Beverly Heritage Center, set in the middle of the Historic District. Made up of four renovated historical buildings, the Heritage Center is one place where you can seek visitor information, pick up souvenirs, explore historical exhibits, and take in tools, crafts, and furnishings from the 1800s.
A few miles west of Beverly, you’ll find Rich Mountain and the Rich Mountain Battlefield where Union troops defeated Confederates in defense of a strategic pass through the mountains. As you follow the byway through the pass, stop off and hike the interpretive trails leading through the region. Come through the area in mid-July for Battle of Rich Mountain re-enactments and witness the critical Union victory performed live by accurately-costumed enactors.
Along the Turnpike toward Weston, stop in Buckhannon to see the old church housing the Upshur County Historical Center Museum. Built in 1865, the church stored Union food supplies during the Civil War. Today the museum houses rotating historic exhibits and authentic museum materials for your own historical research.
Stonewall Jackson's Birthplace
Of course, Civil War places and events along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the individuals who made them possible. Continue about 30 miles west of Rich Mountain and visit the boyhood home of one such individual, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, at the Jackson Mill in Weston. Explore the grist and saw mills, which are now museums containing artifacts from Stonewall’s time. Frontier cabins, farm life demonstrations, and the annual Jackson Heritage Arts and Crafts Jubilee on Labor Day are just a few fun ways you can celebrate this famous individual’s life at the Jackson Mill Historic Site.
Insane Asylum and Civil War Prizes
Also in Weston, be sure to join a heritage tour of the monumental Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (formerly Weston State Hospital). In 1864, the asylum opened for mentally ill patients and is now North America’s largest hand-cut stone masonry building. Today, you can tour the building and contribute to the restoration efforts. On the tour, you’ll learn about patient treatment in the 1800s as well as the Asylum’s unusual role during the Civil War. The partially built Asylum became a fort, Camp Tyler, which was a highly contested site throughout the war. Confederate raiders ousted the Union troops several times, and even raided the Asylum’s supplies, meant for its first patients.
As you travel the byway through the pivotal Civil War state of West Virginia, you’ll discover firsthand the presence of the Civil War that lingers today. Venture upon eerie insane asylums, monumental battlefield sites, and fun-filled craft jubilees, and you’ll accumulate a wealth of priceless encounters with the enduring Civil War remnants along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike.
- Public domain. Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance.
- Copyright © 2007 Kathy.
- Copyright © 2000 The Walkabout Company, LLC.