DAMMED INTERESTING Morgantown sits at the highest reliably navigable point on the pre-dammed Monongahela River. Today, nine locks and dams keep the river a navigable 9 feet deep from Fairmont to the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. Four are near from Morgantown. POINT MARION 119, to Point Marion, Pennsylvania. Cross the river and turn left. MORGANTOWN LOCK & DAM River mile 102, right on the Caperton rail- trail in town. HILDEBRAND LOCK & DAM River mile 108 Cross the bridge to Westover and turn left on River Road. In about 5 miles, take a slight left onto County Route 40. OPEKISKA LOCK & DAM (“OKEPISKY”) River mile 115.4 Take County Route LOCK & DAM River mile 90.8 Follow U.S. Route 73, Smithtown Road, south out of town for 9 miles to a right on Opekiska Road. Visit Morgantown’s Courthouse Square for a bird’s-eye view of the river. Insider tip: Go after dark to see it lit up.
BOTANICAL WONDERS A long-time labor of love that has turned a former reservoir property into a local paradise, The West Virginia Botanic Garden on Tyrone Road just east of town celebrates local flora and habitats through lush informal plantings and peaceful trails. wvbg.org SURVEY THE LANDSCAPE Mason-Dixon Historical Park commemorates the famous surveying expedition and the state borders it drew. Explore the 300-acre park on the state line and beautiful Dunkard Creek. Follow W.V. Route 7 west about 10 miles to Buckeye Road. masondixonhistoricalpark. com A GORGE-OUS DRIVE Drive Scenic Byway W.V. Route 7 east out of town through Sabraton to meander up stunning Deckers Creek canyon. Better yet, take your bike, park at Mellon’s Chapel off of Beulah Road in Dellslow, and enjoy the most dramatic part of the Deckers Creek rail-trail.
Out in the County COUNT RY A I R AND L AND TO S PAR E
outlying areas in monongalia county —north, south, and west of Morgan- town—offer space, privacy, affordability, and freedom from zoning. They’re often the best choice for those who want to build new. Each has its distinctive character. Driving U.S. Route 119 north, the Point Marion Road, takes you to the land between the Monongahela River and Cheat Lake. Some properties spread broadly, with wide views; others, especially close to the Mon, offer dramatic drop-offs. This area attracted some of the region’s earliest settlements—the Forks of Cheat Baptist Church, established in 1775, is the oldest church with continuous records in West Virginia. The local Forks of Cheat Winery here makes many popular styles and occa- sionally hosts dinner and live music events. To the south, W.V. Route 73 and U.S. Route 119 are gateways to Marion and Taylor counties respectively. The Goshen Road and Halleck Road communities lying between them are good midway points for couples working in both Morgantown and Fairmont or Grafton—Goshen Road also gives easy access to Interstate 79. These areas offer everything from well-preserved historical homes to recently developed subdivisions of homes with the latest amenities. To the west lies most of Monongalia County—what is truly referred to as “out in the county.” This is formerly heavy coal country, and a small amount of mining still goes on, along with cattle grazing. Once bustling coal towns, West Virginia Route 7 enclaves like Osage, Pursglove, and Cassville are now quiet retreats from busy Morgantown, while those who want true seclusion can find it just beyond them. The development over the past decade of the University Town Centre and Gateway shopping centers and the WestRidge business and retail park currently in development has brought services, retail, and restaurants within convenient reach of these communities.
48 MORGANTOWN SUMMER 2021
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