Summers County is known for its pristine, wild and wonderful outdoor landscape.
“People forget there’s another gorge here” said Wendy Perrone. “There’s a Bluestone Gorge here as well as the New River Gorge. And the Bluestone Gorge is much more wild, a little bit harder to get to. You’ve got to want to get to it, but it’s worth every bit of the footwork.”
The rivers and recreation were at the top of conversation among community leaders for a video about Summers County for Visit Southern WV. The county is at the confluence of 3 of West Virginia’s major recreational rivers, the New, the Greenbrier and the Bluestone. For that, the area is home to the West Virginia Water Festival.
“You can actually get on the water and just have a float trip,” Perrone said. “You don’t have to do the whitewater rafting, where you’re doing the big scary water. Some days you just want to relax a little bit, and Summers County is the place to relax.”
The waters are also prime fishing spots, one of the best in the country for smallmouth bass. But the waters aren’t the only draw to the scenic Summers County.
“Summers County is all about the mountains, everywhere you look,” said Julia Gator, from the Otter and Oak. “There’s a huge variety, whether you’re a sportsman, a golfer, a hiker… or just like to shop.”
The 3 rivers merge in the tiny town of Hinton, where the Southern hospitality adds to the charm of the Appalachian beauty.
“You walk down the street, you see a new face or an old face, you say hello,” Sheila Allman of The Ritz Theater said of the area’s kind manner. “It’s just a friendly little town.”
Each year, they welcome in visitors to Hinton to celebrate its rich train heritage at Hinton Railroad Days. You can explore those rail roots at the Railroad Museum, or hop aboard a train car for a scenic ride.
Coal was a big reason the trains trekked into the Hinton depot, and the industrial push to replace workers in the area birthed the legend of hardworking, blue-collar icon John Henry.
The tale symbolized the plight of the workers, who feared for their jobs in the wake of rapidly evolving technology. The story goes he challenged a steam engine, and strained so hard killed him. Though it did pay off— he won the challenge.
Regardless, the victory was not enough to keep the industry from fading out across the Summers County landscape, leaving the vast outdoors open for farming.
You drive through this whole region, and you can just see old farmland,” said Perrone. The people in the area protect the wild, scenic beauty of the land that grants them an easy-going livelihood.
They also look after the wildlife that share their forests. Perrone works at the Three Rivers Avian Center, where petite songbirds and majestic raptors alike are nursed back to health when injured.
The center often brings the majestic birds into the community, and sometimes opens its doors to tours.
Not that one needs to travel far from town to explore the Summers County wildlife. The two National Parks help maintain the untouched terrain, which you can come explore for yourself.