Bridgeport/Clarkson, The Jewel of the Hills, is a Gem

This bi-monthly travel tips column is brought to you by TownePlace Suites, an all suites hotel with full kitchens. Check back twice a month for more special columns like this one.

Fort New Salem Foundation Inc.orgBy Ruta Fox

This vacation journey, forget the tried and true hot spots and visit a hidden gem. Nestled in north central West Virginia, Clarksburg is nicknamed “Jewel of the Hills.”

Incorporated in 1785, it’s a town steeped in history with a variety of recreation activities like whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing and golf, and a variety of state parks nearby.

The favorite native son is General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and although it’s the birthplace of this well-known general of the Civil War who fought for the Confederacy, most families of Clarksburg were on the Union side of the War.  The famous general earned the name “Stonewall” for standing his ground at the Battle of Bull Run in Virginia — the first major land battle of the Civil War.

Downtown Clarksburg was was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and is home to Stonewall’s statue and many historic old residences such as the Stealey-Goff Vance House, the old Waldo and Gore hotels, plus banks and theaters that still bear witness to the past.

Check out the section of town called Glen Elk village, also known as Clarksburg’s “Little Italy” district, due to the influx of Italian immigrants. From there hop over to the Historic Central Storage Gift Shoppes. It’s an old warehouse filled with heritage crafts, primitive and fine arts. Snack on local West Virginia-made goodies like wines, jellies, and other gourmet delights or pick up a pepperoni roll at Tomaro’s Bakery.

Some Indian Mounds are located along the road to the city’s Veteran’s Memorial Park, and were probably constructed by the Hopewell culture, an ancient American Indian civilization, between A.D. 1 and 1,000. They are thought to be burial mounds.

In nearby Bridgeport, stop in for a cocktail and enjoy some fine dining at The Wonder Bar Steakhouse, where the menu features steaks and chops. Offerings include a grilled to perfection New York Strip or Filet Mignon and a Porterhouse Pork Chop. The Raw Bar  serves up oysters plus they have an extensive wine list, and they’ve been around since 1946.

For a touch of Old World Italian, you’ll want a meal at Oliverio’s. This Italian family has been behind this authentic restaurant for years and years, with traditional dishes taking the lead. Taste specialties like Veal Marsala or Linguine with White Clam sauce. Mama mia!

At Prickett’s Fort State Park it’s all about experiencing living history. The Fort enacts activities that were found on the frontier: farming, spinning, weaving, carpentry and blacksmithing. Originally built in 1774, it was within 10 miles of 3 American Indian trails.  If an Indian uprising occurred, up to 80 families could retreat to the log fort and cabins for safety.  A stone’s throw south of the fort stands the Job Prickett house, an 18th century historical reconstruction. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is full of antiques used by the original Prickett family.

Go for a hike on the Nature Trail, with 25 helpful interpretive stations about the flora and fauna of north central West Virginia. Or you can walk, jog or cycle on the MC trail from the park to Fairmont.

Beautiful Tygart Lake State Park offers travelers boating, golfing, hiking, camping, a mountain stream fed lake, kayaking or canoeing.  Anglers will delight in the abundant walleye, musky, crappie, perch, bullhead catfish, carp and rainbow trout and more at depending on the time of the year.  For a hearty meal, stop into the Boston Beanery Tavern, patterned after the old Boston pubs from the 1800’s. The spacious lodge restaurant’s hearty offerings include steaks, seafood, prime rib and roast beef served up with a view of the lake.

Need a bit more history? Visit Fort New Salem. In this historical setting, the Waldo Run cabin is being restored as well as the Farm House — helping to preserve and advance cultural, educational and social aspects of 19th century in Western Virginia.

If current day activities are more your style, try Valley World of Fun in nearby Fairmont. There you’ll find an amusement park that’s family-oriented with seven acres of park festivals including bumper cars, tea cups, bowling and laser tag.

For more information, visit


Check out these TownePlace Suites ( hotels when you visit West Virginia:

TownePlace Suites Bridgeport Clarksburg.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Subscribe to Healthy Aging® Magazine

The Premier Lifestyle Magazine for All Ages

Receive four digital issues delivered to your inbox. Just $24.95