of Beverly and the
First Campaign of
the Civil War.
Beverly was one of the earliest settlements in the Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, founded as the seat of the newly formed Randolph County in 1790. Beginning in the 1840s, it was a key crossroads on the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, which provided improved transportation across the Alleghenies and made Beverly a thriving hub of rural community life and commerce.
It also provided access to the vitally-important B&O Railroad across Northwestern Virginia, making it a crucial prize in the First Campaign of the Civil War. General George B. McClellan’s victory at nearby Rich Mountain and capture of Beverly was nationally significant, as it led directly to his appointment as commander of the Army of the Potomac and provided Federal control of northwestern Virginia—making possible the formation of the State of West Virginia.
Later industrialization and growth of the nearby town of Elkins led to Beverly losing the county seat, leaving many of Beverly’s 19th century buildings intact.
“Travel a Turnpike through Time”
The Stanton Parkersburg Turnpike was the lifeblood of the mountain regions, and engineering builders such as Beverly's own covered bridge builder, Lemuel Chenoweth, helped to create this important roadway. The exhibit discusses the construction of the turnpike, and how the roadway – and the communities along it - have evolved and changed over time.
“Beverly and the Struggle for the County Seat”
The county’s original courthouse, set up as a traditional, one room Appalachian courthouse, is the setting for exhibit panels and historic photographs telling about the Courthouse War, and how the county seat was moved from Beverly to the boom town of Elkins.
As a popular stop on the Staunton–Parkersburg Turnpike, the town of Beverly experienced its “heyday” in the 19th century as it provided goods and service to travelers. Our Heyday exhibit features a multitude of artifacts, and several vignettes showcasing life in the town during this bustling time. A working printing press stands in the room, and is often operated during events and special tours by one of our volunteers.
“The First Campaign of the Civil War”
This two-room exhibit provides a look into the important role that the state and the Tygart Valley played in the Civil War. The July 11th, 1861 battle of Rich Mountain in Beverly led General George McClellan to prominence as leader of the Army of the Potomac and helped pave the way for the formation of West Virginia as the 35th state of the Union. Beverly changed dramatically with the coming of the Civil War and occupation of the town, as the once thriving community faced disruption, personal trauma, and brother-against-brother struggles.
Plan ahead to visit the Beverly Heritage Center during one of our special events or living history days. Historic Beverly will come alive with reenactors and costumed interpreters to enhance your visit. Our museum also features periodic new and rotating exhibits, as well as a variety of educational programming. See our calendar for programs, special events and workshops.