Preston County is in the north central part of West Virginia, bordering both Pennsylvania (on the north) and Maryland (on the east). The county only contains one city (Kingwood) and nine towns; the other settlements are all unincorporated communities.
The main road in the county is I-68, which begins in Morgantown and runs east, through the northern part of the county toward Cumberland in Maryland. State road WV-7 runs from Morgantown to Kingwood, the county seat, and Terra Alta. Alternatively, US-50 goes between Grafton and Aurora. Both roads also continue into Maryland in the east.
Tunnelton Tunnels, route 26. (Tunnelton) Two railroad tunnels, one of which was dug by hand between 1850 and 1853. On its completion, at 4,100 feet long, it was the longest in the world, and was crucial during the Civil War. The second tunnel was constructed later to accommodate increased traffic and lower the grade.
Our Lady of the Pines, US-219. (Silver Lake) Bills itself as the "smallest church in 48 states", although at 24 by 12 feet, it has a lot of competition for the title! Nevertheless, it's a pretty little church in a scenic area, and can be rented for weddings. Nearby are a wishing well and the "smallest mailing office".
Cathedral State Park, route 50, 304-735-3771, . (Aurora) A 133-acre ancient hemlock forest and the only about six small stands of mixed virgin timber left in West Virginia.
Cheat River, 119 S Price Street #206, 304-329-3621, . (Kingwood) Self-guided auto tour. The river and adjacent tributaries are currently under restoration to repair damage done from coal mining and a mine blowout in 1992, and restore the orange-colored water to healthy ecosystems. A festival to support the river and benefit cleanup efforts is held in early May, featuring music, food, an artist market, a climbing wall, a road race and a downriver race.
Big Bear Lake, I-68 exit 29, 304-379-4382, . (Bruceton Mills) 35-acre lake for swimming, fishing or sunbathing on the beach. 24 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails, lakeside waterslide, 18-hole miniature golf, game room, tennis courts, volleyball courts, baseball field, country-western dances. Cabins available.
Cranesville Swamp, . (Maryland border, near Lake Ford) 1600 acres of wet bog preserve. Several trails, including a quarter-mile boardwalk over the swamp. Endangered plants and animals can be seen throughout the wetlands. Admission free.
Preston County Buckwheat Festival, Brown Avenue, 304-379-2203, . (Kingwood) Held on the last Thursday of September, featuring buckwheat cake and sausage dinners (produced from local buckwheat and pork), fairground rides, live entertainment, arts and crafts, livestock judging, antique cars and trucks, a woodsmen's competition, Irish road bowling, parades, fireworks and a laser light show.
Alpine Lake Resort, 700 W Alpine Drive, 304-789-2481 or 800-752-7179, . (Terra Alta) 35 rooms. Indoor heated pool, fitness center. 150-acre lake with beach, 8-hole golf course, restaurant, lounge, pro shop, miniature golf, tennis, basketball, cross-country skiing, fishing and hiking.
Heldreth Motel, route 26 S, 304-329-1145, . (Kingwood) 70 rooms. On-site family-style restaurant called Sandy's Cafe, open 7 days a week, serving home-cooked meals and a smorgasbord on Sundays. $41 - $57.
Maple Leaf Motel, corner of Morgantown Street and Main Street off I-68, 304-379-4075. (Bruceton Mills) 12 rooms. Country decor with quilts on each bed.
Preston County Inn, route 7, 304-329-2220. (Kingwood) 8 rooms. Built in 1857 as a private home, and operating as an inn since 1932. 3 dining rooms, a lounge, an open-air deck, spacious front porch with rocking chairs and swing. Located on Main Street, within walking distance of Kingwood's downtown shops.