A never-ending history of the area

John Samsell is a retired copy editor/special editions editor for the Dominion Post.

It’s good that a WVU crew is contemplating giving attention to the Earl Core Arboretum. It is a unique preservation of a hillside section of trees and other plants marked for viewers interested in some of the state’s plant life.

Dr. Core was instrumental in identifying and preserving not only plants but writing about historic West Virginia history, primarily about Monongalia County. His five-volume “The Monongalia Story” preserves history through the mid-1970s during the county’s 200th birthday.

His area of study was botany and beyond. His efforts to preserve plant life should be carried on.

Some of the area’s historic locations should be preserved as well. For instance the WVU downtown campus dates from 1867,

151 years for the oldest building, Martin Hall, which had the clock tower.

Now, Woodburn Hall and the clock tower watching over the noted Woodburn Circle.

Not in any order, other points of historic interest include the clock tower overlooking the Monongalia County Courthouse Square, a sign of justice for more than a century.

To the south of town is Dorsey’s Knob, Native Americans’ Sky Rock and a landmark for pioneers. It once overlooked a fort at the bottom of the mountain. A federal penitentiary is near the fort’s location, according to old-timers who remember seeing remnants of the fort. The Dorsey family once owned much of that land.

Another prime visitors’ location is Cooper’s Rock State Forest, off W.Va.-68 east. It includes paths through the woods, one leading about a mile downhill to remains of a Henry Clay Iron Furnace. The cooper for which the forest was named had a business of making barrel staves, hence a cooper.

The other side of the I-68 exit is Chestnut Ridge Park and various visitors’ attractions. WVU owns a part of the area for forestry classes.

Let’s head back toward town and stop at the Seneca Center, a replica of the glass industry that was also in full operation from 1900 through that 1980s. The area originally was the Town of Seneca, with residences and businesses that now has mostly student residences.

Up a hill on Campus Drive is where the Town of Sunnyside existed with stores, bars and homes. There also was a bridge to the downtown campus. The “loop” that now follows the original roadway and street car route has more student and faculty housing.

We bypassed the WVU Coliseum, now 48 years old, for basketball and other sports. Nearby is a new basketball practice facility, with separate facilities for men and women. Also in that area are facilities for gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, tennis, rifle and track.

In addition to a regulation soccer stadium is a women’s soccer practice field.

The new Mountaineer Field, Milan Puskar Stadium, and the College of Law Building are on a section of land that once had a nine-hole golf course and the vast Morgantown Country Club. When the club closed, much of the members opened The Pines golf facility north on Point Marion Road.

Beginning in the late 1950s, new University Hospitals were begun and have grown by leaps and bounds, after Morgantown was chosen over Charleston for WVU medical facilities.

Almost overlooked but not least of our meanderings about the area’s history is the Scotts Run Memorial area. For more than a century was the coal industry’s place in our history. Still operating are the Scotts Run Neighborhood House and the Miners’ Memorial, helping people the best they can.

Never an end.

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