The Gorge holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and that is especially true for Sharon Cruikshank, who has served the community for more than two decades as Executive Director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau, chair of the Bridge Day Commission and president of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce. And though she’ll be retiring from her posts at the end of the year, Cruikshank will remain a proponent for the Gorge those that live, work, and play here.
“I’ve been very pleased with the area’s growth and all of the positive things that have and are still happening. You could compare it to watching your kids grow up,” Cruikshank said. “This place and its people are very near and dear to me. They’re my family.”
Read on to find out more about some of the communities that make up the Gorge.
Home to Hawks Nest State Park, Ansted is located halfway between Charleston and Lewisburg along U.S. Rt. 60 and overlooking the New River. It is home to approximately 1,400 residents. Visitors are attracted to its small-town charm and access to outdoor recreational activities. Other points of interest include the Mystery Hole, Contentment, Halfway House, Antioch Baptist Church Museum. Annual events, such as the Hometown Mountain Heritage Festival, Country Roads Festival are also a draw.
Fayetteville is the county seat and is referred to as the gateway of the New River Gorge. The town has been named one of the “Top 10 Coolest Small Towns in American” by Budget Travel Magazine and ranked among the 100 top outdoor-adventure destinations by National Geographic along with having several other honors. Fayetteville is known for its array of adventure activities and happening food scene. It is home to the New River Gorge Bridge and West Virginia’s largest one-day festival, Bridge Day.
Located Southwest of Fayetteville, Oak Hill is the county’s largest municipality. The Oak Hill Railroad Depot, the only remaining Virginian Railway depot in West Virginia, is located here, and the White Oak Rail Trail runs through the heart of the city. Music fans might be familiar with the city as being Hank William’s “last stop.” There is a memorial located in town and a tribute event is held each September. The annual Oak Leaf Festival has been held for more than 20 years and draws tons of visitors to the area.