PARKERSBURG - A pair of fall foliage tours and programs are planned for mid-October in the Mid-Ohio Valley, with a one-day program covering Wood and Wirt counties and a two-day festival in Washington County.
The Fall Historical Driving Tour, sponsored by the New Era School Museum and the Centennial and Elizabeth Beauchamp chapters of the Daughters of American Pioneers, will be noon-5 p.m. Oct. 13, with stops at some of the oldest buildings and locations in Parkersburg, Vienna, Mineral Wells and Elizabeth.
The cost is $10 a person and tickets can be obtained at any location.
Photo by Wayne Towner
The Dr. W.W. Monroe Jr. home at 1703 Park Ave., Parkersburg, will be in fall foliage tour.
Stops include the Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum, in Parkersburg's City Park; the Dr. W.W. Monroe Jr. home at 1703 Park Ave. in Parkersburg; the 1908 Fischer home at 900 13th Ave. in Vienna; , the New Era School Museum at Mineral Wells Elementary School; the Bibbee Farm at 12520 Staunton Turnpike in Walker; the McClung-Morgan House at 423 Market St. in Elizabeth; the Beauchamp-Newman Museum on Court Street in Elizabeth; and Sweet Briar Gifts at 672 Court St. in Elizabeth.
The tour is a fundraiser for the Cooper Cabin, New Era School and the Beauchamp-Newman Museum.
The Little Muskingum Fall Foliage Tour and Antique Engine Show will be 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 12 and noon-5 p.m. Oct. 13 along Ohio 26 in eastern and northeastern Washington County.
Sponsored by the Little Muskingum Watershed Association, the self-driving tour will feature stops along Ohio 26 and also features the historic covered bridges along the route, including Hills Covered Bridge, Hune Covered Bridge, Rinard Covered Bridge and others.
The Little Muskingum Watershed Festival will be held near the Rinard Covered Bridge in Ludlow Township and will include garden tractor and tractor pulls, a hog roast, kid pedal tractor pulls and other events both days.
After high temperatures in 2012 brought on early changes in the fall foliage, this year is expected to return to a more normal schedule of changes.
Craig Minton, a forester with the West Virginia Division of Forestry, said the Mid-Ohio Valley will probably see its peak coloration period occur in mid-October, which is standard for the local area. Some higher-elevation areas of West Virginia are already at peak, but the state has such diverse geography that different areas peak at different times, he said.
"This is fairly normal, fairly typical for our area," Minton said of the mid-October peak locally.
The scientific reason for the color changes is a process called photoperiodism. As the sun moves farther south, the hours of daylight shorten and the temperatures fall, causing leaves to cease production of chlorophyll, the chemical that colors leaves green. As the chlorophyll disappears, the underlying colors of the leaves are unmasked. The next strongest pigment becomes dominant giving the leaves a "new" color.
With nearly 80 percent of the state covered by forests, West Virginia is one of the most tree-packed states in the country, next to Maine and New Hampshire. The varied topography in West Virginia provides a fall color show that begins in late September in the most mountainous and highest-elevated areas and continues through October in the lower-lying areas and Ohio River basins.
For those looking for the best show, the Division of Forestry provides weekly reports of the best fall foliage areas in the state and recommends scenic routes for picturesque trips. The reports are posted on the Division of Forestry website at www.wvforestry.com and on the Division of Tourism website at www.wvtourism.com. The first report was posted Oct. 3.
In past years, West Virginia tourism officials have identified 23 byways and backways which offer picturesque glimpses into the state's history and natural beauty, with two of those located in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Spanning the width of the state, the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike National Scenic Byway witnessed some of the great Civil War battles that determined the future of western Virginia. Begun in 1838, the turnpike followed Indian paths from Staunton, Va., to the Ohio River port at Parkersburg.
The Little Kanawha Byway is described as the most accessible of West Virginia's byways, with Interstate 77 at one end and I-79 at the other. The parkway begins in Mineral Wells and mirrors the banks of the Little Kanawha River.