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).
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.