Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

West Virginia Scenic Drives: Historic National Road

        Adventure | South

Highlights of the Historic National Road

A scenic drive along Historic National Road in West Virginia will deliver you from your worries. Time almost stands still while looking down on the city of Wheeling from Mount Wood Overlook. With careful observation, you can spot old, restored Victorian homes, as well as other important buildings in the nation's history.

This vantage point, resting on top of Wheeling Hill, also overlooks the mighty Ohio River. It's at these heights that the observer starts to appreciate the accomplishment of early Americans who constructed the single-span Wheeling Suspension Bridge across this wide river.

As you continue to gaze in the area around Wheeling, more sights become visible. Ancient deciduous forests surround the city and small streams make their way to the grand Ohio River. Maple trees thrive here, and some of the locals harvest the syrup.

Look to these points of interest for a great tour of West Virginia's Historic National Road.

Oglebay Resort Park: Covering 1,650 rolling green acres, Oglebay Resort Park is a major regional recreation center. It features the 30-acre Good Zoo, displaying 80 species of animals; the Benedum Science Theater, offering laser shows; a 1½-mile miniature train ride; 16-acre Bissonnette Gardens, a re-creation of 19th-century gardens; two championship golf courses; two swimming pools; tennis courts; horse stables; and lodging, restaurants, and specialty shops.

Oglebay Institute Mansion Museum: Built in 1846 as an eight-room farmhouse, the Greek Revival-style home later was expanded to become a private summer estate. Willed to the city of Wheeling, in 1930 it became a museum, and it displays period antiques.

Oglebay Institute Glass Museum: Adjacent to the mansion, the Glass Museum features 3,000 examples of Wheeling glass made from 1829 to 1939. Displays include cut lead crystal, Victorian art glass, carnival glass, and other Ohio Valley glass designs. Of note is the 225-pound Sweeney Punch Bowl, the largest piece of cut lead crystal ever made. It is regarded as a masterpiece of Victorian glass.

Wheeling Custom House: Completed at the beginning of the Civil War, the stately Wheeling Custom House has been dubbed "the birthplace of West Virginia." Meeting here in 1861, delegates from Virginia's western counties voted to nullify the state's secession from the Union while creating what became the separate state of West Virginia. It was admitted to the Union in 1863. A video provides details, and a museum displays period artifacts and gives more background on the statehood process.

Grave Creek Archaeology Complex: The Adena, a mound-building people who lived in the region from 1000 b.c. to a.d. 700, are represented by the 2,000-year-old Grave Creek Mound. It is the largest of the Adena burial mounds. In the adjacent Delf Norona Museum, exhibits detail the life of the Adena people. The mound was built by hauling 60,000 tons of dirt in basket loads.

The Historic National Road offers a glimpse into a crucial moment in American history, as well as a glimpse of the beautiful landscaping to be found in this slender stretch of land.

Find more useful information related to West Virginia's Historic National Road:

  • West Virginia Scenic Drives: The Historic National Road is just one of the scenic byways in West Virginia. Check out the others.
  • Wheeling: Find out what there is to do in this town along the Historic National Road.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond West Virginia? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.
  • 1
  • 2