Martinsburg, W.Va., is a dream location waiting to be discovered by the producer of an 18th or 19th-century period movie. There are 10 historic districts with some 3,000 individual properties.
A Civil War Discovery Trail has also been organized to cover some of America’s bloodiest fields of strife.
And the Washington Heritage Trail takes drivers on a 136-mile exploration of more than 40 sites related to our first president and covering almost 300 years of history.
George Washington’s relatives settled in the area, and George himself would later survey much of the territory, not to mention leading a repulsed 1754 raid against the French and Indians in the war of the same name. A year later he was on hand at the famous Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) battle as British troops under General Edward Braddock were badly mauled by French troops and their Indian allies, and the general himself was killed. On May 1, 1755, he had visited Martinsburg to inspect its fortifications.
By the time the Civil War started, Martinsburg had become prosperous, thanks to the B&O Railroad and the many jobs it brought, including a roundhouse repair/maintenance facility (a one-of-a-kind now being restored). But the rail line became a curse during the Civil War. Union and Confederate armies continuously tried either to destroy or restore locomotives and bridges. The city changed hands often.
The city’s most celebrated historic attraction may be the home of America’s notorious Confederate spy, Belle Boyd. Boyd was nothing if not versatile. After spending the Civil War years sneaking strategic information to General Stonewall Jackson—and spending time in prison—she switched gears to become an author and actress who performed overseas.