West Virginia has not, up to the present time, done much with its scenery except to mar it

Posted by | September 17, 2009

A country’s natural scenery may have a good deal more than an aesthetic value. It may be worth money, and from a business standpoint its care and improvement is frequently of great importance. Fifty million dollars go into Switzerland every year to pay the board and traveling expenses of foreigners who journey there for pleasure and recreation. The money thus brought into the country constitutes a large part of the income of the people.

Nature gave fine scenery and pleasing summer climate to Switzerland, and the natives have built the best and most picturesque roads in Europe in make travel easy and exhilarating. Excellent hotels offer attractive accommodations. People go there to spend their money, and depart with the feeling that their money was well spent. Scenery and resorts pay in that country.

The people of Maine have found ways to make money out of their woods, lakes, rivers, and summer hotels. Fishermen and hunters who have plenty of money to spend go by the thousands to Maine to spend it. They are willing to pay well, and the thrifty Yankees see to it that their guests get their money’s worth. That brings the guests back year after year. Game is protected and is plentiful. Streams abound in fish because dynamiting and other destructive modes of killing are not permitted. The woods are in good condition because fires are not permitted to burn unopposed. The people of Maine find their scenery, resorts, hunting, and fishing an investment which pays big dividends.

boaters in Morgantown WV, 1910Boating Group with their Canoe, Morgantown, W. Va., circa 1910.

West Virginia has not, up to the present time, done much with its scenery except to mar it, mutilate it, and burn it up. Except in the case of mineral springs, practically nothing has been done in this State to make scenery attractive or to bring it to the attention of the outside world. West Virginia may never rival Switzerland, but it can equal Maine. The summer climate is glorious among its high mountains and elevated valleys. A series of summer hotels from 3000 to 4400 feet above the sea might stretch across the State, following the Alleghany and parallel ranges of mountains.

Adequate highways connecting these resorts, and others for side trips to hunting and fishing grounds, with the surrounding forests cared for, and the innumerable mountain streams clear and clean, would attract to West Virginia many thousand wealthy tourists who now hardly know the state by name and who never think of visiting it, except to rush across it on the limited express trains of trunk railroads.

A good many things must be done before West Virginia will take its due rank as a resort for tourists, health seekers, and sightseers. It must first protect its woods and make them attractive. It must clean its streams and stock them with fish, and make and enforce civilized laws for protection of the fish. It must stop the senseless slaughter of birds and game. It must build roads that can be traveled with speed and safety by modern vehicles. In building these roads the value of scenery must be considered in regions where scenery is attractive.

The steps necessary to the carrying out of these recommendations are many, expensive, and difficult. No one should suppose that it is possible to do such things by simply resolving that they ought to be done. The immediate duty is to make a beginning and to make it in the right way and in the proper direction.

Then build upon that beginning as it becomes possible to do so. Check forest fires first; lessen the pollution of streams; put all new roads on the best grades, and when old ones are changed, put them on proper grades also; make it so dangerous for fish dynamiters and game destroyers to ply their trade that they will migrate. Follow these beginnings with constructive work; stock streams anew with fish; the forests with game and bird; build roads as circumstances will allow; and take pains to let the outside world know that West Virginia is in the scenery and resort business.

source: Report of the West Virginia Conservation Commission, 1908 (Charleston, 1909). lY-25, 38-39.
http://www.as.wvu.edu/WVHistory/html/doc_unit4.htm

One Response

  • Anonymous says:

    I found this article from a Google search, and all the way up until 3/4ths of the way through where it mentioned people traveling by railroad instead of highways, I was convinced I was reading a contemporary blog post.

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