History and Museums
Step back in time at one of the oldest functioning commuter rail stations, the B & O Roundhouse and Caperton Train Station. Imagine able-bodied men running to protect the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry from John Brown or the men yelling and the flames raging as General Jackson’s troops destroyed this vital complex during the Civil War.
After it was rebuilt only a few years later, the railroads became necessary to the North and became one of the reasons that a new state – West Virginia – was carved from the Confederate state of Virginia. The area became host to more controversy in 1877 when the first major labor strike in the nation occurred here. Today, the buildings are being restored and utilized for various events including a children’s museum. The train station is located between Martin and Race streets in Martinsburg and serves as a stop for the Amtrak and MARC train line
Built of native limestone in the late 1770’s to early 1780’s, the Adam Stephen House is a fine example of colonial stone architecture. The land on which the house was constructed was purchased by Adam Stephen in 1770 as part of a 255-acre tract. The house has been restored and is furnished with period pieces.
Adjoining it is the Triple Brick Museum built in 1874 and rented out as housing to railroad workers. In early records, it was listed as the "Tribble (Triple) House" or "the brick house divided into three dwellings."
The building now contains a museum of artifacts and memorabilia of life in old Martinsburg. Items on permanent exhibit include early surveying equipment, flax and wool spinning wheels, quilts, railroad items, and various items related to the industrial, social, and cultural history of the town from the 1800s to the early 1900s.
Also on display are fossils, primitive stone tools and arrowheads, as well as a collection of military uniforms from various American wars. Artifacts, including late-18th century china, glassware and pottery shards, which were uncovered during archaeological excavations on the Adam Stephen House property, are also featured.
A natural underground tunnel system lies in the limestone geology on the eastern edge of Martinsburg. The Adam Stephen House was built over one of the cave openings which led into this tunnel system, perhaps as an escape route from a possible Indian raid or an attack by the British or other foes. Because children used to play in the tunnels, many of the homeowners who had homes built over the entrances filled them with rocks and dirt to prevent access into the tunnel system. An effort has been made to open the entrances to the tunnel and the entrance-ways are open for public viewing during events. 304-267-4434
Morgan Morgan was one of the first white arrivals in West Virginia, arriving from Delaware in 1728. He was the state’s first licensed tavern keeper and builder of its first public road. He built his cabin between 1731 and 1734 on a thousand acres acquired through a King’s patent.
The simple cabin consisted of one room with a loft above. Morgan’s six sons and several grandsons served in the Revolutionary War. While home on leave, his grandson, James, was captured by several Tories who tied him to the spring house door, and by candlelight, shot 17 musket balls into him in front of his wife and children.
Over time the cabin became derelict and was used for many farming purposes. It was rebuilt in 1976 using many of its original logs. The cabin was sided in 1994 to protect the logs. It is decorated and outfitted as it would have been in the 1700’s. Nearby is the stone and log house built by Zackquill Morgan, son of Morgan Morgan, who later left the area and founded Morgantown, West Virginia.
The cabin and the Zackquill Morgan House, along with 104 acres are owned by the Berkeley County Historic Landmarks Commission. The cabin is on Runnymeade Road off Route 11 in Bunker Hill. There are nice picnic grounds on site. Morgan Cabin is on the Washington Heritage Trail
Sumner-Ramer Heritage Archives and Museum sits prominently within the rich history of Martinsburg and is a surviving symbol of the segregation of blacks and whites in the community. It is home to a museum dedicated to preserving the building’s history and contains a visual representation of the memorabilia dating from the early beginnings of education for blacks in the City of Martinsburg. It relates how the school was first started in 1865 in a two-room log cabin then grew to a building made of bricks from the old arsenal at Harpers Ferry. 515 W Martin Street, 304-263-7764
Visit the childhood home of Belle Boyd, a Confederate spy. This stalwart young woman crossed military lines several times to pass information to General Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War. In a relevant career change after the war, Belle Boyd became an actress who often played femme fatale roles. The Belle Boyd House also serves as the county’s historical museum and is the location of the county Visitors Center.
The Berkeley County Historical Society Archives Center, located next door to the Belle Boyd house, has a wealth of photographs, family records, maps, books, microfiche and more, in a collection that includes family portraits, architectural subjects, industry & events in the history of Berkeley County and surrounding areas. Additionally, there is an extensive, searchable database of People Photographs that will aid the family genealogist or researcher. When visiting enjoy a stop in the Herb Garden. 304-267-4713
For the Kids, By George, where the past has never been more exciting for children! A hands-on, high-touch, total immersion experience for children as they travel through time and explore 300+ years of local history. Visit a Tuscarora Native American village, explore with George Washington and operate a train station. Enjoy recreating a downtown building in the LEGO® room. 304-264-9977
The Dillon Farm Museum has a wonderful collection of agricultural tools, memorabilia and equipment from Berkeley County’s rich heritage. The first weekend in June is a tractor show and the second weekend in October is the fall show. Open Weekends from April 1-October 31. Admission is free. 304-263-0731
Enjoy the Washington Heritage Trail driving tour as you discover and explore the natural and cultural history of 18th century towns, 19th century industrial sites, Washington family homes, springs, rivers and mountain ranges located along 136 miles of the scenic Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. A copy can be downloaded or picked up at the Visitors Center.
A downtown historic district Walking Tour Guide is available to be picked up at the Visitor's Center.
For the history buff, enjoy exploring the area with the Civil War Trail. With this area located on the advancing and retreating routes, it saw much action even if it didn't make the history books. Follow the Civil War Trail path and also come by the Visitors Center to pick up your free copy of Between the Lines, the Story of the Civil War in Berkeley County.