West Virginia’s state parks system, regarded as one of the finest in the nation, had its beginnings in 1929 with the establishment of Droop Mountain State Park, which includes the site of one of the major Civil War battles fought in the state. With the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Services during the Great Depression in the 1930s, West Virginia began to capitalize upon its abundance of scenic locations and historic sites through the development of a system of state parks and vacation areas.
The largest of the state parks is Watoga State Park, which includes Brooks Memorial Arboretum. Blackwater Falls State Park, in northeastern West Virginia, offers year-round recreation. The park includes a wooded canyon into which the Blackwater River drops 19 m (63 ft).
Babcock State Park is a rugged area providing scenic views along the spectacular New River Canyon. The great forest at Cathedral State Park has been entered in the National Registry of Natural History Landmarks. The stand of virgin hemlock and hardwoods constitutes one of the most accessible stands of old growth forest in North America. Grave Creek Mound Historic Site is noted for the Adena burial mounds. Not only is it the largest example of construction by the Native American Mound Builders civilization, but it is the largest conical type of such structures. On November 6, 1863, the largest Civil War engagement of West Virginia’s history occurred on Droop Mountain Battlefield, a mountain plateau overlooking the Greenbrier Valley. Part of the battlefield is restored and marked for visitors, and a small museum contains Civil War artifacts.
One of the most interesting of the historical parks is Blennerhassett Island, located in the Ohio River a short distance below Parkersburg. The island is the site where it was alleged former Vice-President Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett conspired in 1805 to seize land in the Southwest to create a new republic. Visitors reach the island, which features Blennerhassett’s elegant mansion, by way of a sternwheeler.
West Virginia has a number of state monuments. Morgan Monument at Bunker Hill marks the site traditionally considered the first settlement in the state. In Shepherdstown, Rumsey Memorial Monument commemorates the construction and successful demonstration of a steam-propelled boat by the inventor James Rumsey in 1787. A monument in Tu-Endie-Wei Park at Point Pleasant commemorates the bloody battle of Point Pleasant, fought between settlers and Native Americans in 1774. "West Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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