West Virginia Attractions
From Sites of Historic Importance to Scenes of the Weird and Wacky
Weird and Wacky | Historic and Cultural | Nature and Ecology
We have grouped these attractions by what they have in common and not by their geographic locations, but fear not! Each attraction description has listed the other nearby attractions so that you can enjoy more of what WV has to offer with less driving. Please note that all external links open a new window or tab. Close the new window or tab to return here.
Weird and Wacky
These attractions range from strange to disturbing to pretty darned funny. Read on!
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (later named Weston State Hospital), constructed between 1858 and 1881, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin. The hospital was designed to house 250 souls when it opened to patients in 1864. It reached its peak in the 1950’s with 2,400 patients in overcrowded and generally poor conditions.
The building is now the home of historic tours, ghost tours, concerts, and umm, monster truck jams? Check their web site and call before you go.
Mummies of the Insane
In 1888, farmer and amateur scientist Graham Hamrick bought two two female cadavers at the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane (aka: Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum). West Virginia’s own backwoods Dr. Frankenstein mummified them with his patented embalming potion, just as he had done in earlier experiments with vegetables, snakes and the head of a man that he kept in a jar. Hamrick succeeded, all too well. The well-dried fruits of his labor are still in Philippi. Two mummies, in glass-topped wooden coffins, are displayed in the Barbour County Historical Museum bathroom. You can see them for a dollar a peek.
Nearby: First Amputation of the Civil War: The first land battle of the Civil War happened there on June 3, 1861. Confederate J. E. Hanger was hit by a cannonball, had his leg amputated by a Union doctor, later invented an artificial limb, and started a company which became one of the largest manufacturers of wooden legs in the world. Descendant Floyd Hanger used to return to town as a dignitary in an annual parade.
Address: Main St., Philippi, WV
Directions: Junction of US 119 and 250. (Possibly in park next to covered bridge.)
This little roadside attraction is the home of some very unusual stuff and weird happenings. You gotta stop just so you can say you did. Check out their web site if you want to know less.
Historic and Cultural
WV has it’s fair share of history from little-changed,
once-booming coal towns to top-secret, Presidential bunkers!
During the first two decades of the 1900s, Thurmond was a classic boomtown. With the huge amounts of coal brought in from area mines, it had the largest revenue on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. Having many coal barons among its patrons, Thurmond’s banks were the richest in the state.
With less coal coming in from local mines, the town began a steady decline. The many businesses closed down, and most residents moved on. Today, the town of Thurmond remains surprisingly untouched by modern development. It is a link to our past, and a town with many stories to tell.
Greenbrier Bunker Tours
After 3 years of construction which began in 1958, the top-secret, 112,544-square-foot bunker, which was built 720 feet into the hillside under The Greenbrier’s West Virginia Wing was completed. The facility was maintained in a constant state of readiness by a small group of government employees working undercover as Forsythe Associates.
Visit their web site for contact information as reservations are required!
Lewisburg, West Virginia is home to one of only four Carnegie Halls still in continuous use in the world. Today, the cultural center annually serves more than 75,000 patrons with live performances by outstanding companies and artists from around the world, award-winning arts in education programming, classes and workshops, fine art exhibits, an independent film series and more!
Nearby: Greenbrier Bunker Tours; Lost World Caverns; Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory
Helvetia, West Virginia is a small Swiss village in a high mountain valley. The original Swiss and German settlers arrived in 1869 and their descendants remain. Due to the isolation of the area, the traditions of dance, music, food, and holidays have survived through the generations. Visit their web site for local events, holidays, and businesses. A web site? I guess they’re not that isolated!
Nearby: WV Wildlife Center
Nature and Ecology
No state in the country is more wild or more wonderful than West Virginia!
Please help us keep it that way during your visit. Give a hoot and don’t pollute!
Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory
Since 1952, Hanging Rock has been a monitoring point for hawk, eagle, falcon, and osprey migration along the birds’ eastern route.
West Virginia Wildlife Center
The West Virginia State Wildlife Center is a modern zoological facility displaying native and introduced state wildlife. Operated by the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Wildlife Center is dedicated to presenting visitors a realistic and factual understanding of our state’s wildlife. Woodland wildlife can be viewed along a wheelchair-accessible interpretative trail 1.25 mile through a mature hardwood forest.
Visit their web site and call ahead for hours of operation.
Nearby: Helvetia, WV
Lost World Caverns
Lost World Caverns were discovered in 1942 and are a magical place for both young and old. They offer self-guided tours so you can explore the cavern at your own pace. There’s even a dinosaur museum!
No matter the temperature outside, its always 52 degrees in the cavern so we recommend you take a light jacket and be sure to wear some good walking or hiking shoes.