CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A weekend of history-themed hikes and presentations begins Friday at New River Gorge National River, several Southern West Virginia state parks and the Tamarack auditorium in Beckley.
Hidden History Weekend, now in its fifth year, celebrates the Appalachian heritage of Southern West Virginia, and connects the region's current residents with sites that helped shape the area's history.
This year's Hidden History events range from a 1.5-mile walk along the battlefield at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park to a "Haunted History" hike, featuring regional ghost stories, at dusk near Thurmond in the New River Gorge.
All programs are free unless otherwise noted. Here's this year's schedule of events:
Hawks Nest History Quest, from 1 to 3 p.m., involves a history-themed scavenger hunt and a free ride on an aerial tramway. Participants meet in Hawks Nest State Park's main lodge lobby.
Babcock and the CCC, 6 to 7:30 p.m., starting from Babcock State Park's office building. See how the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program, helped build the infrastructure for Babcock and other state parks on this 1.5-mile walk.
Under the Hills, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Tamarack auditorium. Storyteller Fred Powers, a retired miner and public schoolteacher, tells stories of coal's boom days and the lives of miners and their families.
Bluestone Walk, 10 to 11:30 a.m., starting from the bottom of the tramway at Pipestem Resort State Park. See remnants of the area's earliest farmsteads in a 1-mile walk, or opt for a longer, more strenuous hike of 3 miles to an old cabin and overlook at Raven Rock. A $2 fee covers a return ride to the top of the Pipestem tram.
Historic Thurmond Walking Tour, 11 a.m. to noon, starting from the Thurmond Depot Visitor Center. Life in this once-bustling railroad hub is discussed during this half-mile, ranger-guided walk.
History Roundabout, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Canyon Rim Visitor Center, near Fayetteville. Hear Appalachian music played on dulcimer and the bowed psaltery, see demonstrations on flint-knapping and view displays of American Indian artifacts found in the Gorge, and see and play with popular toys from the past.
The Nation's Most Dangerous Woman, 1:30 to 2 p.m., Canyon Rim Visitor Center Auditorium. A presentation on labor activist and organizer Mother Jones.
Cemetery and Stories, Red Ash Island, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., starting from Southside Trailhead at Brooklyn campground near Cunard River Access Area in the New River Gorge National River. Explore the tragic past of Red Ash Island on this 3-mile hike along an old railroad grade.
Families of the Bluestone Gorge Hike, 3 to 5:30 p.m., starting from the top of the Pipestem Resort State Park tramway. Discover the history of family life along the Bluestone River 100 years ago on this 3-mile hike down moderate trails to the Bluestone River. Bring shoes appropriate for a wade across the river to the tram station and $2 for the ride back to the top.
Haunted History Hike, 7 to 9 p.m., starting from the Rend Trailhead parking area on W.Va. 25 near Thurmond. Presented by Youth Arts in the Parks, this 2-mile walk, guided by Scout youth leaders and a National Park Service ranger, takes place as darkness approaches and spooky stories are recounted. Program not recommended for children under 9, due to the content of some of the stories. Hikers should bring flashlights.
Country Roads Walk, 10 to 11:30 a.m., starting from park headquarters at Pipestem Resort State Park. Explore the history of the Pipestem community before development of the park on this 1.5-mile walk past former home sites and an abandoned school.
Coal Mining in the New River Gorge, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sandstone Visitor Center. A ranger and a former coal miner will be on hand to discuss the evolution of coal mining in the region.
Historic Thurmond Walking Tour, 11 a.m. to noon, starting from the Thurmond Depot Visitor Center. Discover what life was like in this once-bustling railroad community during this ranger-led, half-mile hike.
Movie Time: Paddles of the Past, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. screenings of a 20-minute documentary on the evolution of whitewater boating on the New and Gauley rivers.
Little Beaver and the CCC, 1 to 2:30 p.m., starting from Little Beaver State Park's headquarters building. Discover how the Civilian Conservation Corps developed Little Beaver State Park during the 1930s on this 1-mile walk.
Grandview and the CCC, 3 to 4 p.m., starting from the Grandview Visitor Center. View the works completed by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression on this mile-long hike.
Averell's Raiders & the 35th Star, 2 and 4 p.m. screenings of this film by documentary filmmaker Jon Averill will be shown in the auditorium at Sandstone Visitor Center of New River Gorge National River. Film covers the efforts by this Union cavalry regiment to fight back Confederate efforts to invade and disrupt the new state of West Virginia in 1863, including battles at White Sulphur Springs and Droop Mountain.
Contentious Land, Contested River, 2 to 4 p.m., starting from the Patterson House Museum at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. Guided hike along the battlefield explores the events that shaped this 1861 battle and the movement for West Virginia statehood.
Milling Around at Glade Creek Grist Mill, 3 to 4 p.m., at the much-photographed water-powered mill at Babcock State Park. Tour the inner workings of the mill and learn about the food staples it produced -- and continues to produce.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at email@example.com or 304-348-5169.