Mile 127 – Madonna of the Trail (W.Va.), Wheeling, W.Va.

West Virginia’s Madonna of the Trail has it’s own pullout for seeing the statue up close.

Coming from the east, West Virginia’s Madonna of the Trail is the third such statue one comes upon if following the National Old Trails Road route (along which the monuments were laid), or the second statue if following the National Road (which is part of the National Old Trails Road).

West Virginia’s Madonna statue was the second to be built, after Ohio’s monument in Springfield. The West Virginia statue was dedicated in July 1928 (see this previous post on the Pennsylvania statue for a brief history of the origin of the statues).

The West Virginia Madonna is the second oldest of 12 in the country.

Unlike the Pennsylvania statue, which isn’t as visitor-friendly (it’s right up against a higher-speed stretch of U.S. 40), West Virginia’s Madonna is set further back from the road and has a turnout dedicated to the statue, which sits in Wheeling Park. The City of Wheeling assisted the DAR in funding the erection of the statue, and helps maintain the grounds around the statue today.

Like all 12 Madonnas, West Virginia’s is identical to the others, and is maintained by a local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter, which is in Wheeling in this case.

(The other monuments are in Bethesda, Md.; Beallsville, Pa.; Springfield, Ohio; Richmond, Ind.; Vandalia, Ill.; Lexington, Mo.; Council Grove, Kan.; Lamar, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Springerville, Ariz.; and Upland, Calif.)

In my opinion, Wheeling is a fascinating, historic small city, but it is one of the more difficult places to navigate for someone not familiar with the area. The steep hills and Interstates 70 and 470 seem to cut the city into disjointed pieces. So, while the West Virginia Madonna is located in Wheeling, it’s a few miles east of the downtown area.

A sign describing all 12 Madonnas at the Wheeling statue.

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7 responses to “Mile 127 – Madonna of the Trail (W.Va.), Wheeling, W.Va.

  • Jim

    Sure enough, Wheeling is hard to navigate. Fortunately, the Madonna is right on US 40, and it’s easy to spot.

    The only Madonna I haven’t seen along the National Road is the one in Springfield, OH. When I made my trip across the road in Ohio last year, it was in a hard-to-access spot. It was also approximately a billion degrees outside, so I wasn’t too inclined to go looking for it. They’ve apparently moved it so that National Road travelers can actually find it.

    • Matt Murphy

      Good to know. I think the monument in Springfield will likely be the next Madonna I get to see. Was it more off the National Road at its original spot?

      • Jim

        Not really, but there was no good way to get to it from the road. Just awkward. Its new location is said to be easily accessed.

        • Stuart

          Hi,

          I just wanted to point out that the Madonna in Springfield used to be on the side of a high-speed section of US 40 to the west of Springfield, which made it hard to access, as Jim says. However, this last summer I was in Springfield, and found the Madonna moved to a nice park right in the center of the city (still on US 40). It would be interesting to learn why the city moved the statue, and get some background about the park.

          I’m still enjoying the blog! Keep it up!

          Stuart

        • Matt Murphy

          Thanks! That info will be useful once I make it to Springfield!

  • Stuart Brorson

    Hi —

    I recently found this blog and have been enjoying the entries. Your interest in an oft-overlooked part of America is great. I’ve also felt that the landscape covered by the National Road is very interesting and unjustly forgotten. I am glad you’re giving it some attention.

    While you’re writing about interesting sites in Wheeling, you may also want to photograph the Mingo statue at the top of the hill, before the National Road descends into downtown Wheeling and the Ohio River. I’d be curious to see what you have to say about that.

    Cheers,

    Stuart

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