USA Travel Magazine

           West Virginia Travel Guide

Beckley Historic Sites Include General Beckley's Home, The Mountain Homestead, Exhibition Coal Mine, And Other Sites

West Virginia has something for everyone, including plenty of undiscovered beauty, much history, and restful places for people who want to escape from a world that moves too fast. Founded by General Alfred Beckley in 1837, Beckley is one of southern West Virginia's largest towns. General Beckley's home, The Wildwood House, which containing many pieces of original furniture remains a reminder of the city's past. The tour of the home takes you back to what West Virginia life was like in the 1800's.

To experience the life of early pioneers visit Southern West Virginia pioneer village, Mountain Homestead. Since travel through the mountains could be extreme the settlers built self-sustaining towns rather than rely on supplies from the outside. On the Interpretive tours available you can learned more about the people who called this 1860's frontier settlement home, and visit a Log Home with barn, One Room Schoolhouse, Blacksmith Shop, Weaver's Shed, and the Country Store.

West Virginia is known for its coal mining. Recently, I visited the Exhibition Coal Mine at New River Park in Beckley and the town that surrounded it. It gave me the opportunity to see what life was like living in a company coal town. The underground tour takes visitors into the once-operational coal mine where you'll find examples of coal mining from its early years through modern mechanization. Going down into the coal mine 1,500 feet below the surface was not something I really wanted to do as I am not a fan of close places or darkness, but I decided to stiffen my spine and do it. It was well worth the experience.

First we got into authentic “man cars” that carried about fifteen people with a miner who was our guide. We descended into the darkness and soon I could feel the damp, cool air of the mine on my skin. I felt enclosed and remembered all the stories I had heard about prisoners in dungeons, but our guide who knew much about mining and miners soon pulled my attention back to the present with his stories of personal experiences in the mine. My trip on the “man car” proved fascinating as I learned about how coal was mined originally and then how the life of miners changed with new equipment and safety devices. In the beginning a canary was used to detect poisonous gases in the mine but it was eventually replaced by mechanical devices. Back at the surface, I was very glad to see the sunshine.

Going down into the mine made me curious as to how the miners lived on the surface, so I toured the little town which included a company store, a Coal Camp Church, a schoolhouse, and private homes. Coal Camp Houses depict lifestyles of mine workers, showing the contrast between the house of the Superintendent and the house of a miner. The on-site museum displays tools and pictures from various mines.

By Sierra Berg


Getting There:

To explore details on events, area attractions, recreation and other sites to experience visit the Beckley Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau at  or call 1-800-982-3386.