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The Mountain State is a unique place

October 20, 2013
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

Bridge Day was Saturday in West Virginia.

For those who don't know, Bridge Day is a day we Mountain State residents have set aside to basically throw a big party and watch a bunch of people jump from the New River Gorge Bridge.

While I've often considered the possibility of going down to see what all the fuss is about, I have absolutely no interest in actually making the jump.

I've seen how high that bridge is. Years ago, my family took a trip around the state as part of our vacation. During one of our stops, we took a boat ride down the New River to the bridge. Believe me, that is a massive jump to make!

Plus, as I've mentioned, I get vertigo from climbing up ladders. What in the world would possibly have to happen to convince me to jump off a perfectly good bridge with nothing but a parachute or a large bungee chord to keep me safe?

But, that also brings to mind some of the unique aspects we have here in West Virginia.

You may have read the features we published last week discussing some of the history of the Nature Conservancy program in West Virginia.

It's always interesting to learn something new about our home state, especially when it comes to some of the natural beauty we offer.

Many efforts and programs have been started over the years to help preserve some of that beauty, including the creation of state and national parks, nature preserves and wildlife refuges.

This time of year especially, many people think about coming to our state to check out some of that beauty.

We often take trips to Canaan Valley and other areas to see the change in colors to the fall foliage, with all those yellows, reds, oranges and purples covering the sides of our state's hills and mountains.

I've walked around Blackwater Falls with the leaves falling to the ground. I made it about half-way up the walking trail at Seneca Rocks, toured a couple of our caverns, hiked around fields, lakes, streams and other natural areas.

At the same time, I wonder how little I really know about some of the places in the Mountain State.

I've heard quite a few people mentioning the idea of visiting all 50 states at some point in the life.

That's a great idea as our nation is so diverse, but how many also would like to take time to visit every corner of their own state?

There are many places I've never seen, just as I'm sure there are many in the state who have never been to the Northern Panhandle.

I have friends and colleagues in the Eastern Panhandle, for example, but I don't know that I've ever been to the Martinsburg area. It's been years since I've visited Charleston, and I've never gone to Huntington.

While West Virginia is comparitively small, each region of our state is as unique as our state is from other states.

The Ohio River Valley has focused on industry and is looking for new types of businesses to spur its economy. Morgantown and Huntington have seen growth along with West Virginia University and Marshall University. The Eastern Panhandle has seen changes as a result of becoming more a "bedroom community" area to Washington, D.C. Technology has grown in other regions.

We could all learn from each other and maybe that could even help find some new solutions for West Virginia's problems and future.

At the same time, we have our river valleys, our mountains, our water falls, canyons, fields and other natural areas.

They are home to many plants and animals both unique and rare to this region. Some we see all the time, while others most folks probably don't even know exist.

Perhaps if we all learned a little more about some of those unique aspects, features, events, etc. the Mountain State possesses, it would lead us all to apprecate our home a little more.

A nice, cross-state road trip may just be in order soon.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

 
 

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