West Virginia

West Virginia Listeni/ˌwɛst vərˈdʒɪnjə/ is a state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the north (and, slightly, east), and Maryland to the northeast. West Virginia is the 41st largest by area and the 38th most populous of the 50 United States. The capital and largest city is Charleston.


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Other States
Brake, West Virginia
George Washington National Forest
Keyser Ridge
McDowell County, West Virginia
Spruce Knob Mountain

Questions? Need an updated map? Email me andy@andyarthur.org.

This October, I am thinking about taking another trip to West Virgina. People from New York don’t know much about West Virginia, thinking it’s a backwards, coal producing state, but it’s also one with incredible scenic beauty. I love the beauty and the back country roads, but boy are those hills steep, the roads narrow and twisty. They’re tough on your brakes going down them, even in low gear, and tough on your engine climbing them.

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But then again, I was in the highest elevation part of West Virginia, visiting places like Dolly Sods and Spruce Mountain. Great country, but you are up high. Climbing and descending the mountains, really isn’t much fun in West Virginia, especially with a lifted truck with a low gear ratio and somewhat undersized brakes.

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I kind of would love to see that country again, but I think I would try to stay off of some of those hills, preferring to stick to main roads, that go through valleys as much as possible. I would definitely avoid mountain passes, because I really don’t find that driving that much fun, with my fear of having issues with the truck, with no cell service in much of the northern part of state, due to the National Quiet Zone.

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If I do go down there, I will skip Shenandoah National Park. That park was fun to see but I would like to do more of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and head further south. I do need to plan which campgrounds I would stay at, because there aren’t the free camping opportunities along the Parkway, as I might find in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. But so be it. I can survive in a lightly developed campground, like North Creek Campground in Buchanan.

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I don’t know how far south I could go on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but at 45 MPH, you can make a lot of distance. The parkway is a fun drive, it lacks the sharp curves and hills that you find in either West Virginia or Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park. I got to really hate the hills in West Virginia. I actually found the Blue Ridge Parkway to be the most pleasurable part of my trip, even if there was a lot of speed traps on gently sloping downhills. Cruise control and Waze helps with that.

It would be a fun trip. I just got to keep planning, and play it out by ear as the autumn approaches.

Google Maps: 2016 Unemployment Rate In West Virginia

The Southern portion of West Virginia is not just the poorest part of the state, it is also the region with the state's highest unemployment rates. McDowell County and Mingo County had a seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 12.1% and 12.6% respectively -- one of the highest in the nation.

Data Source: US Department of Labor, Local Area Unemployment Statistics. 2016 Unemployment Rate. https://www.bls.gov/lau/

Google Maps: Median Household Income In West Virginia

The wealthiest part of West Virginia is Harpers Ferry - Martinsburg in panhandle of West Virginia -- home to many commuters in the Washington DC Metro area. The poorest region is coal fields of southern most West Virginia, including towns of Bradsaw, Welch, Pineville, and Landgraft.

Data Source: 2015 American Community Survey Estimates, Median Household Income by County Subdivision. http://factfinder.census.gov/

Google Maps: Campgrounds In Monongehella, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

This interactive map shows all of the developed campgrounds in the Monongahela National Forest along with the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in West Virgina and Virgina in the Allegheny Mountains.

Data Source - Forest Service Recreational Opporunities Database. http://data.fs.usda.gov/geodata/edw/datasets.php?xmlKeyword=Recreation+Opportunities

In McDowell County, WV — the county that was ground zero during the War on Poverty — comparing two Presidential Elections:
  • 1988: Dukakis, 74.20%. Bush, 25.40%.
  • 2016: Clinton, 22.97%. Trump, 74.16%.
Only 5.1% of residents over age 25 have a college degree in McDowell County. That’s the lowest of any county over 500 in population in America. When the War on Poverty was underway in 1965, the county had a population of 71,359. Today, the population is 19,835.

Thinking about how I’m going to get to West Virginia on my autumn trip down there. I don’t think I will have enough daylight to make it down there on my first day, so I have to figure out a stop over somewhere in Pennsylvania.

I’m thinking about Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County, Penna, which is near Lockport and State College. They have campsites with electricity for $15-17 and are open year round. This would give my inverter a break and would mean a hot shower in the morning.

From there, i would hop on the Bud Shuster’s expressway, the I-99 that cuts through the hills, releasing acid mine discharger stronger then battery acid, and head down to West Virginia via that short section of US 220 and I-68 through Cumberland which is a clusterfuck of an expressway with sharp curves and steep hills.

Then maybe spend the second night at Camp Run Campground in Fort Seybert, WV. I should make it there before it gets too dark out, if all goes well, and I don’t take too many side trips on my way down there.

Then there is West Virginia. I have a list of places I want to go to but, I think about them some more. Maybe a future post.