Moundsville Vies To Be Listed Among ‘Best Historic Small Town’ in America
MOUNDSVILLE — With a little help from voters, Moundsville could be king of the hill as one of the “best historic small towns” in America.
The county seat of Marshall County recently was named an entry to USA Today’s 10Best.com list, where the public can vote until May 6 on a variety of categories that feature small towns across the country.
The website listed Moundsville as one of 20 contestants in the category that includes a stout list of historic places such as Williamsburg, Virginia, Dodge City, Kansas, Cape May, New Jersey, and St. Augustine, Florida, to name a few.
“The town of Moundsville is home to one of West Virginia’s most fascinating historical attractions, the West Virginia State Penitentiary, dating back to 1876,” the 10Best.com website wrote of the Ohio River community of about 8,500 people. “The town also serves as the gateway to the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, one of the country’s largest conical burial grounds and a National Historic Landmark.”
Moundsville Mayor Phil Remke, who regularly pushes economic initiatives, was flattered to learn that his town is being considered as a historical place by the national publication. The penitentiary, which closed in 1995, is already an attraction with various events there throughout the year. That and the burial mound across from it offer Moundsville a one-two punch for tourism, he said.
“With that kind of atmosphere, people are finally realizing it,” Remke said. “People in town don’t know what they’ve got here. We’re one of the best kept secrets.”
His vision for Moundsville is “Mayberry with the 21st Century shot into it,” and the historic central business district is a big part of the economic driver, he said. Remke added that the city already is experiencing economic benefits from the natural gas industry, and the town’s inclusion in USA Today’s Top 10 list would undoubtedly boost tourism to the community.
“We’re really excited about our future,” Remke said. “A lot of good things are coming out of this.”
USA Today’s 10 Best contest began in 2014 and has broached a variety of categories, including restaurants, breweries and attractions. This month, the website is reviewing six “best small town” categories that include history, shopping, adventure, cultural scene, food scene and coastal locations. Three other West Virginia towns are nominated in other categories, including Shephersdtown for shopping, Oak Hill for adventure and Point Pleasant’s cultural scene.
As of Friday afternoon, Moundsville ranked 10th out of 20 on the historical towns list. Each of the 20 nominees are towns with fewer than 30,000 people living in them as of the last U.S Census. They’re described by the website as places with “big histories and small populations, making them fun and affordable ways to dive into our nation’s past.”
People can vote once per day until noon May 6 at www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-historic-small-town, and share Moundsville’s page on various social media platforms. To view the entire list of categories and entries, go online to www.10best.com/awards. The 10 winners will be announced May 17.