23 May 2013

Charleston, West Virginia

23 May 2013--Arrived outside Charleston, WV Tuesday afternoon for a week's stay of sightseeing and hopefully some rest (haha).  Between the emotional events of the past 2 weeks and staying up late watching the Spurs on "East Coast time", we are exhausted.

West Virginia has a really boring license plate, but we liked the state seal and flag.  The Latin logo reads "Mountaineers are Always Free".


Believe it or not, we are staying in this Church of God RV Park...really pretty area, and needless to say, lots of peace and quiet!  haha  The baby geese are adorable.


Walking around the park to see what was here, we stopped in the laundry room and found this Rush Limbaugh magazine...just a reminder to us that all is not tranquil in paradise!!!  haha

We drove into Charleston yesterday and spent most of the day touring the Capitol building and State History Museum.  The Capitol is quite impressive on the outside, but not so much on the inside.  The statue out front is Abraham Lincoln, called "Lincoln Walks at Midnight", depicting him contemplating establishing West Virginia as the 35th state during the Civil War in 1863.  The Capitol building is right on the banks of this river....8 of the houses over there were originally built on the Capitol side of the river and relocated over there by barge when this Capitol building was built in the early 1930s.  And that bell is another of the 53 exact replicas of the Liberty Bell that France gave to us in the 1950s.  We have seen several of them at other Capitol buildings we have visited over the past couple years.

The Capitol Complex is a rather large area, with lots of statues and monuments like this one to veterans of the different wars we have been involved in.  They have the names of all the West Virginians killed in the older wars, like WWII and Vietnam, carved into the inside panels...check the last panel in this group out...when you blow it up they have listed different actions we have been involved in from Beirut in 1983 to Desert Storm in 1991.  Once again, I am always surprised at how warlike we are when I feel I was raised believing we are a peaceful country (haha).


More statues...to women vets and Booker T. Washington, who was born here.


Inside the Capitol rotunda and the hall leading to the House and Senate.

The only difference between the House and Senate is that the House has a flat ceiling while the Senate's is curved.  The chandeliers are identical and quite pretty.  The legislature here is another of the so-called "citizen legislatures"...they only 60 days a year here, so are considered part-time...but unlike a lot of the others like that where they get paid only $6000-$7000 a year, here they get paid $35,000 for those 60 days!  Not bad work if you can get it!

There were only 3 sculptures inside the building.

The 1st was of Stonewall Jackson.  He also had a statue outside on the grounds, and was actually the 1st statue placed on the grounds.  This is surprising only in that he was a Confederate general, while West Virginia was established as a Union state.  I guess they are still confused as to whose side they really wanted to be on.  haha

The 2nd statue was of Senator Robert Byrd, who they called the "West Virginian of the 20th Century"!  He just died in 2010 after 51 years in the Senate, the longest serving time in US history, but I only put him up here because he was probably the only US Senator Cathy could name by just hearing his voice.  She called him "the Byrd-man!" and always laughed at how he waved his pocket copy of the US Constitution at the other Senators as he berated them or the President or whoever else for not following it!!!  By the way, he was famous for bringing home more "bacon" for West Virginians in the form of tax dollars than probably any other politician!!!

And finally, this bust of Anna Jarvis, a West Virginian who was the founder of "Mother's Day"!

From the Capitol we walked over to the State History Museum.  We were surprised at how extensive it was...it took us close to 4 hours to get through it.  It literally starts in the prehistoric times and comes up to the present, so by the time you get to about the 1900s your eyes are swimming independently of each other...haha.

Somewhere it said that the land that is now West Virginia used to be south of the equator...way over my head, but here is the jaw and teeth of a woolly mammoth to prove it!


A raccoon skin.


And a Barbie Doll version of Jessica Lynch, the young West Virginian who was captured in 2003 at the  start of the Iraq War.  They truly left no stone unturned.


George Washington owned 65,000 acres of land here, and Daniel Boone had a piece of it, too.  This picture of him is interesting...doesn't look at all like Fess Parker!  That was his musket and walking stick.


They had extensive exhibits on how West Virginia was established, and what led to it wanting to break off as a separate state from Virginia.  Basically, it came down to 2 things.  One was that the eastern part of the state had all the political power and basically ignored those in the west, while the other big thing was the institution of slavery.  The east had all the plantations and therefore slavery was strongly supported there, while the west was more mountainous and as yet mostly unexplored, so not so many slaves.  They had slavery here but it was talked about negatively more as a hindrance to the hiring of poor whites as opposed to any opposition of actually owning another human being.


Here is a posting of a sold 22 yr old slave...$500, which was quite a bit of money back then.

Interesting tidbit as to why Native Americans would have kept making treaties with the US government giving their land away.  I guess they thought they were playing us for fools, in that you can't sell what you don't own anyway.  What a raw deal they got.

Of course John Brown and Harper's Ferry were prominently displayed.  Leave it to Americans to always be looking for a way to make a buck!  haha


This is crazy...2 brothers who both fought on both sides of the Civil War.


West Virginia was formed as a direct result of the Civil War.


The 2nd woman pictured here was right out of an action movie if you want to read it.

This bucket belonged to Stonewall Jackson's slave...I wonder how they know that?

Various displays, from weapons to immigration, to the feud involving the Hatfield's and McCoy's.


When coal was king!!!  And "company" stores that owned whole towns.


I think I had a pair of skates like this


And I wonder if those tomatoes are "organic"?  haha

Amazing how skinny someones feet would have to be to fit in these shoes.

This woman convinced the Congress that the Revolutionary War started in West Virginia...you gotta be kidding me!?

A hair dryer from the 1950s.

A washboard from the 1920s...I thought Brian might like one up in Maine for his laundry needs.  haha

The headlines say it all.


Everyone loves a soda fountain.


Now check this out.  The coal miners lighting the caves with oil lamps literally attached to their heads! YIKES!!!!  You can see in the 2nd picture, the guy on the far right...his head appears to be on fire because the oil lamp is lit and attached to his cap.

Lots of info on the mines, the miners, the unions, and the poor people who worked their fingers to the bone.


Out of nowhere an explanation as to how the donkey and elephant came to represent the Democrat and Republican parties.  I always wondered about this...especially the donkey...like who wants to be represented by an "a.."?

Black lung disease from the mines...how some one's lungs change from 3 yrs to 20 something years in the mines.


I think I saw one of these before...step right up if you want a perm at the hairdresser's shop!!!


Mountain music...and that is Cathy's favorite senator on a fiddle album!


So this was a pretty extensive history museum.  Very interesting but almost too much info to take in with any hope of remembering in one day.  We enjoyed it though.

Today we are taking a ride along a scenic route of the state...we shall see!


  1. Your are right, way to much info to take it all in and remember!!!!
    I do know I had a few chuckle with your commentary!!!
    I tried going back so I could comment on certain things, but can't find them, I do know it was very interesting!!!

    1. If I didn't know you better I would think you were blowing smoke at me (haha), but I am surprised that you didn't at least comment on the fact that we are staying in a religious campground...I thought that was pretty out of the ordinary and therefore worthy of comment! haha

  2. Did you go into the little chapel at the camp ground. I like the stuff about slaves. It looks like that had a little of everything in that place. See I thought Daniel Boone was from Tenn. and why did he died in Missouri?