How do you top an insane asylum? Well, we just drove on down the road a ways to West Virginia’s capital, which is — do you remember? (I freely admit I didn’t) — Charleston. Charleston, West Virginia. The state capitol building was nice, although not nearly as impressive as Indiana’s (I may be prejudiced, but I believe this is true).
You could walk right inside it, and stroll the largely-empty hallways. No inspectors, no security. The Indianapolis capitol building definitely has a lot of security, so this kind of surprised me. Are West Virginians more trusting, or less-prepared?
Outside, there was a statue of that pillar of West Virginia — the coal miner.
There was also a tree with a plaque designating it as an offspring of the “survivor tree” from the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing in 1995.
Next to the capitol building (capitOl is a building, capitAl is the city. Right? Got that?), there is the West Virginia State Museum. Most states have a state museum in the capital, usually near the capitol building, and they’re often pretty interesting. They’re also often free, which probably explains why we’ve visited several (Indiana’s and Michigan’s come to mind, although I bet we’ve gone to more).
The West Virginia State Museum was an impressive place. We walked in, were asked if we needed any help by some of the employees there, and I think the entire morning we were the only people in the place. It has to cost a bunch of tax dollars to keep a place like this going, and it didn’t appear to have much of an audience, at least on this day. And yet, as a teacher and just as someone who loves to learn, I couldn’t really begrudge the money. Better it go here than to the Iranians, huh?
The museum had several quilt displays. Quilts, I learned, are a big part of West Virginia’s Appalachian culture (side note: is it Apple LAY shan, as I’ve always said, or Apple LATCH un, as I hear often around these parts?).
There were several walk-through parts that made you feel you were in a coal mine, or a turn-of-the-century West Virginia town. Just goes to show that there are interesting things everywhere. You don’t need to go to Paris, just look around in your own town.
There was an old telephone switchboard. I think my mom worked at one of these, plugging in calls, around the time I was born. Amazing how quickly things have changed. What innovations will the next fifty years bring?
I saw that there was a special display of First Ladies’ dresses, and was excited to see them. I lost a little enthusiasm when I realized that the display featured dresses of the first ladies of West Virginia rather than of the US — although I guess that does make sense at the WEST VIRGINIA STATE MUSEUM. Anyway, here are a few. The exhibit also featured nifty little dolls of various first ladies, dressed in miniature versions of the dresses. Neat!
Heading out, the girls found one of their favorite sights of the day — a black squirrel with a red tail! We don’t see ’em like this in Indiana.
The vacation is winding down, but there are still a couple of stops to make, if you’re still up for them …