A recent day trip to Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park near Summersville, WV was a great end to the summer. If you are a Civil War or American history buff, you have probably heard of the Civil War Trails that span five states including West Virginia. Located on the ridges of the Gauley River Canyon, near Summersville, sits one of the pivotal Civil War battlefields for the state of West Virginia. After two years of being entrenched in a once peaceful family farm, the Confederate soldiers were forced to retreat, thus losing the foothold in this region to the Union forces. As a result and soon afterward, the movement to breakaway from Virginia and become a sovereign state proceeded, and the state of West Virginia was created.
Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is a great place to not only learn about an important part of our nation’s history, but also to enjoy hiking on several well marked trails. We decided to start on the Patterson Trail, named after the family who owned the farmland in which the battle took place, and end with the Copperhead Overlook trail which featured a stunning, clifftop view of the Gauley River and canyon. If you don’t veer onto the Copperhead trail and continue on the Patterson trail, you will wind around the entire park, both starting and ending in front of the Patterson House. The most popular hike is the one we chose, which was a moderate level hike.
The Patterson House museum at Carnifex Ferry, is filled with lots of history and information as well as a few reproductions of money, weapons and military attire for kids (which would be great for reports and illustrations for school projects!). The 150 year old farm house, turned museum, is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and is staffed. When we arrived inside, we were greeted by a woman who told us a little bit about the area and what the museum had to offer. We browsed the lower level, taking in a miniature display of the battlefield, admiring the original woodwork, floors and fireplaces while we wandered along. Toward the back of the house was a narrow staircase leading up to two large rooms with handmade display cases filled with Civil War items that had been found in and around the battlefield. Flanking the fireplace, in one room, were the portraits of the commanders of the Union and Confederate forces, both with stern, determined faces. Inside the display cases were bullets, utensils, spurs, canteens, belt buckles and other things made of metal that seem to better withstand being buried in the earth for decades. The museum was very interesting and made our hiking more enjoyable, by just being able to imagine what it could have been like for soldiers taking those same steps over a century ago. As we explored the rest of the park we were impressed by the level of care and maintenance that were evident throughout. There are four reservable picnic shelters, perfect for family gatherings, clean restrooms, a nice playground, softball and volleyball areas, horseshoe pits and picnic tables with outdoor grills.
Photos of Carnifex Ferry Battleground State Park:
We really enjoyed our end of summer visit to Carnifex Ferry near Summersville, WV and hope you will take the opportunity to explore it for yourself sometime soon. For more information on things to do and see in West Virginia, please visit Information West Virginia’s website. Visit Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park
Topic: Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park