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Mountain State Tours: Lewisburg, West Virginia

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Driving through the wide-open pastures, surrounded by looming mountains on both sides of the roadway and following the meandering Greenbrier River, US 219 offered a reminder from my first trip to this region back in 2004. My drive then, no different than today’s drive, allowed me to explore more of West Virginia’s abundant vistas and scenery while stopping in their small towns. Lewisburg, found along the junction of US 219 and US 60, the Midland Trail, still ranks as one of my favorite stops. Below is a view of East Washington Street.


The city of several thousand, known as the county seat of Greenbrier County, was named after surveyor Andrew Leis who established a camp near today’s Lewis Spring. But many early settlers to the region retreated to the Shenandoah Valley during the British-French War of 1755-1761 due to the potential for Native American attacks. An attack in 1763, known as Pontiac’s Rebellion, resulted in the killing of men and the carrying off of the women and children in nearby Muddy Creek and Clendenin. Fort Savannah was constructed at Lewis Spring around 1770, and Virginia Governor Dunmore, sensing a battle against the Native Americans soon in the future, gathered up over 1,490 men who then marched down the New and Kanawha Rivers to the Ohio River, and had intended to cross over and attack the Shawnee in the Ohio Country. The Shawnee, however, surprised them at the mouth of the Kanawha, and both sides fought in an indecisive battle known as the Battle of Point Pleasant.

The first permanent settlement at Lewis Spring came in 1769 when John Stuart and Robert McClanahan constructed cabins on their grants in the Frankford and Savannah Mills area. Other pioneer families soon followed. Lewisburg was established in October 1782 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly, and soon prospered due to the number of mineral springs around it that led to the development of resort hotels and spas, and the abundant farms. The completion of the Midland Trail, today’s U.S. Route 60, and the Seneca Trail, today’s U.S. Route 219, was instrumental in bringing in industry and commerce to the region. Lewisburg was referred to as a political and social center for western Virginia.

The completion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O) in 1873, and a connection north to Marlinton, led to the development of the timber industry. A branch from Sandstone along the New River into the coalfields of western Greenbrier County added more industrial growth. The St. Lawrence Boom and Manufacturing Company was completed in 1882 and was the first large industry in the town – and the largest softwood plant in the nation at the time of its completion.

In 1978, Lewisburg’s 236-acre core was declared a National Register of Historic District, and has been meticulously maintained. The city is home to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, one of 29 such medical schools in the United States, and one of three medical schools in the state.

A view down West Washington Street.


South Jefferson becomes mostly residential.


North Jefferson dips into a valley and through a residential neighborhood towards Interstate 64.


A view down Washington Street towards the Jefferson Street intersection.


Known as the Greenbrier Bank – Elks Building at North Court Street and West Washington Street (128 West Washington Street), the three story brick structure was built in 1897 in place of an earlier bank building. Iron balconies adorn the rounded corner.





Looking towards the intersection of Washington Street and Jefferson Street.



Small, locally-owned businesses line North Court Street.




An interesting building stock along South Court Street. I like it.


That’s all of Lewisburg from the Coolest Small Town in America, or as so voted upon by Budget Travel readers!


Further Reading

a. Lewisburg, West Virginia:

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