5 amazing historic tales to explore around the New River region

The National Parks of Southern WV have a long, storied past, which you can still explore today.

Here are 5 unique tales you can uncover in the National Park:

1. Nuttallburg

Nuttallburg was one of nearly 50 mining towns to develop in the New River Gorge during the coal boom. These days, the site is abandoned, empty since the late 1950s. However, the National Park Service recently completed restoration and interpretive signage throughout the area making it a “must see” item when visiting the New River Gorge.

2. Thurmond

Thurmond was your classic boomtown of the early 20th century. It is even rumored that the world’s longest poker game took place at the nearby Dunglen Hotel. With massive amounts of coal being mined locally, coal barons helped make this tiny town along the New River one of the richest in the state.

3. John Henry

John Henry is a name many learned of in their childhood: the man who beat the machine. What you may not know is that this contest supposedly took place nearby in Talcott, WV. The story goes that John Henry, the “Steel Drivin’ Man,” stood up for the working class, racing the new steam-powered drill to cut a railroad tunnel. They say he won, completing the work of more than 30 men, but died shortly after. Fact? Folklore? You be the judge.

You can celebrate Henry’s legacy at the John Henry Days Festival.

4. Mary Draper Ingles

Mary Draper Ingles was a true survivor. After being captured by the Shawnee, Mary and another women planned their escape into the vast wilderness. No food. No maps. With winter approaching, they simply followed the Ohio, Kanawha and New Rivers until they reached the familiar English settlements. Mary was reunited with her husband and lived out her days at home in Virginia.

5. The Richmond-Hamilton Farm

The Richmond-Hamilton Farm near Hinton gives a peek into the pioneer days. The preserved subsistence farming stead once provided all the sustenance for an entire family. Raising both crops and animals, they got enough to survive or traded for other things they needed. They were truly living off the land, but it was a harsh challenge. Today, waysides guide you around the historic property.

What’s your favorite historic tale from the National Parks of Southern WV?

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