As the Tygart River trickles from its birthplace in Pocahontas County and winds its way down the fertile Randolph County valley following US Route 219, it gains size and greets Elkins, the historic county seat. Known as one of the “28th Best Small Arts Town in America,” downtown Elkins hosts a potpourri of shops offering unusual gifts and handcrafted items made by local artists. Elkins is the western Welcome Center into the Mountain Highlands region, easily accessible via interstate corridor from I-79 and is the commercial outpost of the southern region.
The Civil War played a pivotal role in the development of the Tygart Valley as well as the birth of West Virginia. The Beverly Heritage Center and Rich Mountain Battlefield provide a glimpse into this historical struggle and the effect it had on the region. Four historical districts in the county, including Davis & Elkins College, help to preserve the past of this Appalachian area. The Augusta Heritage Center offers courses in dance, music, crafts and folklore each year that reflect Appalachian heritage.
Ride the Train, See the Show
The last passenger train pulled into Elkns and the Elkins Railroad Depot in 1959. Since then the railroad tracks have been silent. Today, passengers can again board at the restored downtown depot just as they did many decades ago. The Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad offers five mountain rail adventures into the nearby countryside, plus many event rides and dinner trains.
After a rail excursion, attend a Branson-style live family music, comedy and variety show at the 525-seat American Mountain Theater, located adjacent to the Depot. The theater also offers American history shows and special Gospel / Bluegrass concerts. New this year is the Gandy Dancer Theatre. Take in a live mountain music show while sitting down to a chicken dinner.
Recreation in the National Forest
The Monongahela National Forest wilderness areas are reserved for soft-impact hiking and backpacking, watching wildlife and birding. Trout fishing in county streams and rivers is a favorite past-time in spring and fall; hunting in early winter.