Long before the region was discovered by settlers, the Midland Trail was already a well established "trail" by Native Americans traveling the region. As the country grew and the automobile found its niche, U.S. Route 60 became the first transcontinental "highway" stretching from Virginia to California.
For a 37-mile tour of the byway, start your outing in White Sulphur Springs and head west over the Greenbrier River and up to Lewisburg.
To get a "lay of the land," be sure to plan a stop at the North House Museum. Interpretive tours of life in Greenbrier Valley are depicted in the period furnishings, clothing and tools on display. If you're a Civil War buff, take a stroll up to the Confederate Cemetery, the final resting place for 95 unknown soldiers who died in the 1862 Battle of Lewisburg.
Behind Carnegie Hall--one block southwest of the museum--the Dick Pointer Cemetery is named in honor of a former slave distinguished for his bravery during the 1778 Shawnee attack on Fort Donnelly. Pointer was eventually granted his freedom and buried with full military honors in 1827.
The Hawk Knob Hard Cider & Mead story goes back generations with every step from the heirloom apples to the artisanal process based in the Greenbrier Valley. The processing and barreling "plant" is located 2.1 miles from Route 60. They offer weekend tours of the facility along with tastings of this fine craft beverage.
Josh Bennett - Hawk Knob Hard Cider & Mead
Why did you choose to settle in the Greenbrier Valley? I grew up in Highland, VA, but we spent summers working and playing on our family farm in Pocahontas County. Cider making is a tradition in my family, so I grew up learning every step. I produced my first barrel when I was 12. Fortunately, I’ve figured out a few more things since then.
When you have family or friends in, what’s your go-to place? We’re outdoors people, so we like to get on the rail-trail or float the Greenbrier River. It’s fun to drop into Lewisburg for a bite to eat or have a picnic at Hawk Knob. The view’s pretty spectacular here.
What do you like to do in your free time? My business partner Will and I still wear all the hats at Hawk Knob. When I do have some free time, I like to spend it with my two daughters. Not much has changed – you’ll probably find us playing outside somewhere.
Another short detour off the Midland Trail leads you past Swift Level Farm, its columned mansion and barns, to Herns Mill Covered Bridge. Constructed in 1884 for $800, the bridge was renovated in 2000 to ensure it stands the test of time for another century or more.
FUN FACT - When a local farmer discovered an unplanned renovation no longer accommodating a piece of his farm machinery, he "tweaked" the bridge with his chainsaw until he achieved the desired width. Unfortunately for the farmer, an otherwise law-abiding citizen, he was charged with destruction of property and paid a hefty fine.
While Greenbrier County is named and known for the Greenbrier River, the 53-mile long Meadow River is also a prominent tributary. Flowing from springs in the county's western wetlands, it eventually meets up with the Gauley in Fayette County. A 15-mile stretch of the river includes class III, IV and V rapids that some experts consider the most difficult stretch of whitewater in the state.
Rainelle owes its existence to the Raine brothers, who bought 100,000 acres of virgin hardwood in the surrounding mountains in the early 1900's and built the world's largest hardwood lumber mill and a town to house the mill's 500 workers. The oak flooring in the Waldorf Astoria's ballroom floor is one of many historic places where you'll find the Raine brother's wood products. While you're in Rainelle, visit the Rainelle United Methodist Church, a 105-year old structure built entirely of American Chestnut, which is virtually extinct.
“ The Scenic Midland Trail winds through scenic pasturelands and crosses over mountain ridges. ”