Journey with Kileen / Travel & Leisure

Journey with Kileen: West Virginia

Share This Post

Seneca Rocks (W Virginia) by A Silverstein, Oct 2013.

Seneca Rocks (W Virginia) by A Silverstein, Oct 2013.

With Fall just around the corner here is a great place to visit during that time of the year.

I was once playing a trivia game and the question was, What state is called The Mountain State?  Naturally I started thinking Wyoming or Colorado, but I was wrong.  The correct answer which shocked me was¦West Virginia.

The state is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains which are the oldest mountain chain in North America.  Because of that you don’t see a lot of tall mountains.  The average is probably 3,000-5,000 feet with a few over 6,000.

But what makes West Virginia The Mountain State?   They say they have more mountains in their state than any other state east of the Mississippi.  This state has had its share of troubles from Civil War battles, mountain feuds, and coal mining labor disputes.

But today its scenic beauty, especially in the fall, has made it a haven for skiers, white-water rafters, hikers and anyone who loves the outdoors.  There are covered bridges, caves, and an extensive railway system that was once used for transporting lumber and now carries passengers who want to enjoy the state’s scenic wonders.

And that is the reason I am writing this article.  I wrote a previous piece on West Virginia Autumn Foliage and that is truly a wonderful time to visit the state.  But our new tour, with Mayflower Tours, runs both in the summer and fall.

The tour is called West Virginia Mountain Rails and Trails and you are treated to four different train rides in the state on this seven day adventure.  You fly into Pittsburgh which is another Eastern city that has made a turn around and is quite beautiful.

As Barney Fife, Don Knotts gets the help of Sheriff Taylor when his gun gets stuck on his finger.

As Barney Fife, Don Knotts gets the help of Sheriff Taylor when his gun gets stuck on his finger.

From there you transfer to your hotel in Morgantown.  We ride a prototype people mover around Don Knott’s hometown and see all the sights where he grew up.

Later that day we have dinner aboard the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad.   This excursion follows the South Branch of the Potomac River through a scenic valley and steep mountains filled with evergreens.  You may even spot a bald eagle along this journey.

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

The next day is on to the Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area and later we board the Cass Scenic Railroad for a journey up the mountain to Whittaker Station and a logging camp.  Old steam Shay or Heisler locomotives, that once hauled the logging trains, will take us on this adventure.

The Greenbriar with the Bunker is one of my favorite places to visit.  This stop awaits us the next day.  I wrote about this place extensively in my other West Virginia article if you would like to read more about this stop.

The Beckley Exhibition Mine

The Beckley Exhibition Mine

We continue on to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine where we travel underground in authentic mining cars.  The New River Gorge, one of America’s newest National Parks, is our next stop.  We even ride a covered jetboat on the river.

Finally our last day is full of adventure.  First up we ride the steam-powered Durbin Rocket along the Greenbriar River.  A Climax 1910 steam locomotive takes us on a 10 & ½ mile 2 hour journey with both scenic mountain, as well as river views.

Next up have a hobo lunch while we climb Cheat Mountain aboard the Salamander and finish the day with dinner at the Railyard Restaurant and ending with an evening of live entertainment at the American Mountain Theater.  At the theater we are treated to a mixture of country, gospel, bluegrass, pop, and patriotic music.

There is definitely a lot of adventure on this tour as well as scenic beauty that will take your breath away.  Whether you take an escorted tour or make up your own with Fall nearly here you may want to definitely consider visiting the The Mountain State.

Editor’s note:

HEY!!!  STOP THE PRESSES! UPDATE! UPDATE! Kileen’s done it again!

Kileen-BookJourneyOnTheRailsHere’s a teaser from Amazon ¦..

Three couples take a journey of a lifetime as they explore the stunning vistas of the Western United States. Riding on the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, and Empire Builder, a wonderful cast of characters discover National Park, big cities, and the Pacific Ocean. Along the way then encounter myriad of feelings and experiences including joy, frustrations, struggles, death, and unexpected romance.



To read in depth about the Seattle, WA area, check out Kileen’s book, Journey Beckons. You can order it through her website (as well as preview the first few chapters) at or you can order it through Amazon either in book form or the kindle edition.

Happy to say that Kileen has been very busy. A recent book, Journey To Port is also available through Amazon/kindle, and it’s also in book form through Amazon. Also, on her website (, you can both preview a few chapters as well as order the book.

Ohhhhh my.  Kileen is hitting a home-run again!  Just released: Journey To The Tropics in which she explores love the second time around “ all set within lush environment of the Bahamas!  Enjoy “ and visit Amazon to get your copy!


Kileen Prather has been a Tour Manager since 1997. Her exciting career takes her to between thirty-five to forty states a year. According to Kileen, there aren’t too many places in the US that she hasn’t visited. She absolutely loves traveling and meeting so many wonderful people from all over. In her column for After Fifty Living, Journey With Kileen, she shares her favorite places and talks about the different means of travel, whether you care to go by car, boat, train or motorcoach (bus).

Kileen is also the author of five books. If you’d like to learn about the Seattle area in depth, check out her book, “Journey Beckons.” You can order it through her website (as well as preview the first few chapters) at or you can order it through Amazon either in book form or the kindle edition. Her latest book, “Journey To Port” is now also available through Amazon Kindle. You can preview a few chapters of this book, also, on her website (

Share This Post

Leave a Reply

Lost Password


Like Our Page!

Receive our updates via Facebook!