It was the early days of what would become the United States of America. People came from across the ocean to settle in this new world. Many of the settlers encountered Indian tribes. While some of the tribes welcomed the settlers and interacted with them, there were tribes that wanted the settlers gone, and they attacked them. To protect the settlers from attacks, various forts were constructed. When an attack occurred, nearby settlers went into the fort for protection. Among them was Prickett’s Fort which was built in 1774 on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River by Jacob Prickett near Fairmont, West Virginia. The fort you see in the state park today is a recreated fort of what was there before. When you visit Prickett’s Fort State Park during the summer months, you will meet people in costume who recreate life in the fort. There is also the Job Prickett House, a house built by the great-grandson of Jacob Prickett, and a museum in the Visitor Center. Although none of the original structures remain, you can still get a glimpse of life in the early days or North America.
Some of you are saying, “This is really nice. They build these fort to protect the early settlers from attacking Indian tribes. There is a problem. These people did not use the railroad because the railroad did not exist. Therefore, I will not settle on visiting this place.”
Neither Prickett’s Fort nor the Prickett family have anything to do with the railroad… but the park does.
You arrive at the Visitor Center at Prickett’s Fort. It has a small museum that tells the history of the park which, of course, the history of the fort. Then you get a tour of the recreated fort. You see the recreated barracks and the general store where someone may try to sell you something. There are other artisans at work at the fort. From there, you can visit the blacksmith who you will find working on his creation. Then you visit the Job Prickett House.
After the tour, you cannot leave the park until you get a view of the Monongahela River and Prickett’s Creek. As you enjoy the view, you take notice of what looks like a railroad bridge. No, it is not a recreation, but it was once a bridge used by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The trains no longer come through here, but you can walk across the bridge as it is part of the Mon River Trail which follows the old railroad bed from the park north to Morgantown. As you walk along the trail and arrive at the river, you will see an old railroad bridge crossing the Monongahela River. Sadly, you cannot cross this bridge, but you can get a great view of the bridge from the trail. (It was a different rail line, and it is currently unknown who owned that line.)
And you thought that Prickett’s Fort State Park is just about a fort. It is about a fort with a little railroad history as well.
Prickett’s Fort State Park is located at 88 State Park Road in Fairmont, West Virginia. You can follow signs from Interstate 79. There is no entrance fee for the park or to walk on the Mon River Trail, but there is an admission fee to tour the fort and the mansion. The fort and mansion are open during the summer months, but the visitor center hours vary through the year. You can get more information at https://wvstateparks.com/park/pricketts-fort-state-park/.
It is time to head out to the great frontier, and make a detour to Prickett’s Fort where the railroad once roamed.