Nestled in the midst of the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia in Pocohantas County along the Greenbrier Valley is the small town of Marlinton. As with many small rural areas, Marlinton is in the process of revitalizing itself by promoting its natural resources and local artisans for tourists. In its industrial heyday, logging and coal mines were the main sources of their economy. Now the beautiful scenic drive through this area draws many motorcyclists in the summer as well as snowskiers during the winter.
If it was not for the public screening of the PBS episode on West Virginia’s Mononghela National Forest by “Travels With Darley”, I may have never discovered the town of Marlinton. As a fan of “Travels With Darley” and “Equitrekking”, another PBS program by Darley Newman, I was interested to see the film as I have ridden horseback in surrounding West Virginia areas.
The public screening was held in a quaint Opera House, circa 1910, renovated and refurbished by local citizens. Inside the Opera House were tin sculpted ceilings and an old train depot clock, reminscent of the time period when opera houses were in vogue. Music entertainment and theatricals are now held here on a regular basis.
The public screening also offered me an opportunity to finally meet in Darley Newman in person prior to her presentation. In addition, other local representatives gave information about their efforts to protect the wonderful natural resources that abound in this section of West Virginia, while at the same time promoting its recreational attraction to outdoor enthusiasts which creates a very fine-tuned balancing act.
We arrived early in the afternoon after a beautiful drive through the Allegheny Mountains with hardly any traffic. We walked around town and visited some of the local shops. Being the “crafty” type of person, I enjoy browsing through artisan shops to discover one of a kind items that would not be found in your regular box stores. The first stop was at the 4thAvenue Gallery, which is an artisan co-op, showcasing a variety of local artisan’s work in an old train depot.
One of the unique items which caught my eye was a framed horsehead created from wool felting.
Across the street, was “The Trading Post” which contained a variety of antiques, primitives, and handmade furniture.
Accessible from the center of town is the Greenbrier River Trail which runs south from Lewisburg, WV to the north to Cass Scenic Railroad area. Hiking, biking, camping and horseback riding is available on this 78 mile stretch of old railroad bed, the longest in West Virginia.
Three miles north of Marlinton off Route 219, is Gunter’s General Store, which also offers a variety of antiques, gifts and collectibles, including Appalachian glassware.
Also situated off Route 219 is the Marlinton Motor Inn which is a popular overnight spot for motorcyclists and snowskiers, as it is suitably situated directly off a scenic route. Reservations are definitely recommended as this motel is fully booked every weekend. A restaurant, bar, and swimming pool within the motel make it a popular one stop for all. We enjoyed homemade country cooking in the dining hall for both dinner and breakfast. In the dining hall was a brightly painted mural of the historical Marlington train depot.
Marlington was a great 24-hour scenic escape in a small town, back in a period when life was slower.
About the Author: Susan St. Amand is a Board Member of the Shenandoah Trail Riding and Horseman’s Association in Shenandoah County, Virginia. She grew up in Northern Maine with horses on a farm and has been a transplant to Virginia for the past 26 years. A retired Youth Education Technician, she enjoys planning horse vacations with friends and has currently completed many rides in Maine, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, as well as Virginia, trailering her own horse.