Hinton the County Seat of Summers County, a quaint little town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains along the confluence of three rivers, is in the southern gateway to the New River Gorge. The New River, The Greenbrier River, and The Bluestone Rivers are all accessible from this small town. Hinton, once known as a railroad town, was established in 1872 but wasn’t chartered until 1880. The town was named for John (Jack) Hinton, who married pioneer Avis Gwinn Hinton, and owned the land where the town now sits.
Before the Civil War, the Virginia Central Railroad (later named the Covington and Ohio) tried connecting the Atlantic with the Ohio River by rail. Efforts were eventually halted at the foot of the Alleghenies at the Village of Clifton Forge. After the Civil War, railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington took control of the railroad and extended it to the resort at White Sulphur Springs. Between 1869 and 1873, crews laid rails from White Sulphur Springs and east from the Ohio River.
C&O officials drove the golden spike on a frigid day at Hawks Nest in Fayette County on January 28, 1873. The new railroad finally connected the nation’s East coast with Southern West Virginia, via the towns of White Sulphur Springs, Hinton and the newly created city of Huntington.
The railroad was instrumental in shipping coal from the most remote valleys of Southern West Virginia to the Atlantic Ocean, Great Lakes and every major eastern market in a matter of days. As a result of the new railroad, small towns began to spring up to accommodate the needs of workers. Thus the town of Hinton was formed.
Today, Hinton offers the visitor an atmosphere rich in history and natural beauty. Listed on the registry of National Historic Places in 1984, the town offers examples of Victorian, American Gothic, and Greek Revival architecture. The Victorian Train Depot still serves as a passenger station to Amtrak. The depot also serves as the eastern terminus for the annual New River Train Excursions, during the expected fall color peak. Leaving Hinton and winding through the New River Gorge, the excursion gives passengers a chance to view the Gorge from a vantage point not available by other methods of travel.
The town has several museums filled with collections of artifacts reflecting the history of the railroad and other local points of interest. The mountains come alive with the many festivals held in the town each year. Such festivals include the WV State Water Festival, WV Birthday Celebration and Hinton Railroad Days.
With three rivers at their doorstep, water activities abound in this community. Fishing, canoeing and rafting are just a few of the many popular outdoor recreational opportunities available to residents and visitors. Just down the road you will find the Bluestone Wildlife Management Area and the Bluestone State Park offering camping and cabins for rent. You will find hiking and biking trails for a leisurely stroll amidst the lush forest and wildlife.
Hinton has something to offer everyone whether you are a history buff or an outdoor enthusiast. A stroll downtown offers visitors a glimpse in to the past as you find yourself surrounded by buildings built at the turn of the 20th century, now occupied by museums and antique shops.
For more information on these and other sites call:
Summers County Visitors Center at 304-466-5420 or visit them at www.threeriverswv.com
Other links to visit: