Nestled along the banks of the Monongahela River, Morgantown, WV is the bustling home of 30,000 full-time residents. Home to West Virginia University and “The Mountaineers,” Morgantown’s population roughly doubles when school is in session.
Morgantown has consistently been rated as one of the top small cities in America to live or start a small business. The city’s natural surroundings play a large part in this, and have been a factor historically. The area was greatly contested during the 1700s. The banks of the Monongahela and Cheat rivers made the location prime for settlement and industry. Visitors can get a glimpse of the area’s glass and coal heritage at the Morgantown Museum and in display cases at the Seneca Center, a repurposed glass factory, now a retail hub along the Caperton Trail.
A piece of local trivia: the U.S. Department of Transportation built an experimental personal rapid transit system in Morgantown in the 1970s. The Department cited the area’s variable seasonal climates and mountainous terrain as factors in testing the technology’s viability. Affectionately called the “PRT,” this elevated “people mover” has been operating since 1975. WVU students use the system free of charge, with the cars transporting as many as 15,000 a day during spring and fall semesters.
The High Street commercial hub is a beehive of entertainment, dining, and arts options. The Metropolitan Theater, home of the West Virginia Public Theatre, is a restored Vaudeville theater and a compelling stop for visitors to Morgantown.
Morgantown offers a plethora of outdoor recreation and cultural activities. Two microbreweries, a Saturday morning farmers’ market (May-October), the Mountain Peoples’ Co-op, and the 91-acre Core Arboretum are other assets that continue to land Morgantown on “best of” lists.
For a full listing of theaters, museums, parks and other attractions, see the Morgantown business directory. [link last three words] Outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventures off the Mon, can paddle the nearby Cheat River, Big Sandy Creek (Class III, IV and V rapids), or hike the trails of Coopers Rock State Forest.
The 5-mile paved Caperton Trail follows the Monongahela River and skirts the Wharf District and the Sunnyside neighborhood, as well as restaurants with outdoor seating facing the trail. The trail goes through the Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, which hosts local festivals, concerts, and the Movies on the Mon movie series. At the park, the Caperton Trail joins the Deckers Creek Trail. This 19-mile route follows the creek and Scenic Byway Route 7 for 19 miles. The Upper Mon Water Trail is accessible from Morgantown as well. The river can be accessed via the Uffington boat ramp off Route 73.
The Monongahela River flowing through Morgantown supports small mouth bass and catfish. Several bass tournaments a year are held along this stretch of river. Anglers are often spotted fishing the tail-waters of the Morgantown Lock and Dam or trolling from boats. The WVU crew team practices out of the Morgantown Marina. Calm water kayakers and canoeists often put in here as well.