Southeast Vacation: West Virginia State Museum

West Virginia state capitol building Charleston

West Virginia state capitol building Charleston

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).

West Virginia state capitol building Charleston

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?

West Virginia state capitol building Charleston


Outside, there was a statue of that pillar of West Virginia — the coal miner.

West Virginia coal miner statue Charleston

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.

West Virginia survivor tree Charleston

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).

West Virginia State Museum

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?

West Virginia State Museum

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?).


West Virginia State Museum

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.

West Virginia State Museum telephone switchboard

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?

West Virginia State Museum first lady dresses

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!

West Virginia red-tailed black squirrel

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 …

4 thoughts on “Southeast Vacation: West Virginia State Museum

  1. The dome of West Virginia’s Capitol is beautiful! Anything with gold impresses me. I liked the quilts and the governor’s first lady dresses with the miniature dolls. Nifty idea! This travelogue has been so interesting from beginning to end…Oops! We aren’t there yet. 🙂

  2. I drove through the city of Charleston on my way out east for my vacation earlier in the year. I have to agree with Leona. The dome, especially with the sun shining on it, is beautiful! I had to be careful to concentrate on my driving rather than on the beauty of the dome.

    On another note, Van Wert, Ohio, has black squirrels, but I don’t remember that they have red tails. In my mind, I remember the entire squirrel as black. I may have to do some research on that.

    I’m really enjoying the recounting of your vacation.

  3. Capitol and Capital – I have NEVER kept them straight. Why is some of the English language so ultraconfusing? You are a smart cookie but you erred in saying your mother worked at a telephone switchboard around 1964. We moved to Seymour in August 1961. One September morning in 1961 I walked (Dad had our only car) to the Indiana Telephone Corporation where I talked to the main man in charge – Mr. Gus Hastedt. He hired me and told me to start work after lunch that very day. The irony is that Mr. Hastedt was from Huntingburg and knew my Grandpa Schulte and exactly where our Schulte farm was located! This irony continues. He and his first wife are now buried at the Huntingburg Cemetery, next to our Schulte plots. The job he hired me to do was in the billing department of the Telephone Company. That was an interesting chapter of my life. I quit the job September 15, 1964 – Aunt Emma’s birthday. I walked away with a lump in my throat. Dad nor I believed a mother should have a career and I had liked my job.

  4. How lucky your daughters are to have parents who take them on educational vacations!! I have learned so much from your vacation blogs. That switchboard brought back lots of memories. When I graduated from Tell City High School in 1957, my first job was as a switchboard operator because Tell City did not yet have the dial system. It came a couple of years later but that experience helped me get a job as a PBX switchboard operator at a local manufacturing company. I also loved the rest of the capitol/capital tour!

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