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Cathedral State Park is located in Preston County, near Aurora, on U.S. 50. The 133-acre park, at an elevation of 2,600 feet, is the state’s largest old-growth forest and contains one of the largest stands of virgin hemlock remaining in West Virginia. Cathedral State Park is considered the finest example of mixed hemlock and hardwood forest, including black cherry and yellow birch, in the state. The oldest hemlock in the park is about 500 years old, 123 feet tall, and 20 feet in circumference at the base. The stately hemlocks with their tall columnar trunks and fragrant shade imbue the forest with a cathedral-like atmosphere, hence the park’s name.

In 1880, the Brookside Resort, offering recreational opportunities to visitors from Washington and Baltimore, was built on the present park site. Resort cottages and the barn still remain. In 1922, Brandon Hass, Brookside caretaker, purchased the forest. He sold the property to the state in 1942, with the stipulation the old forest never be cut down. In 1966, the park was entered in the National Register of Natural Landmarks. Cathedral State Park is a day-use facility with three miles of hiking trails but does not offer lodging or camping accommodations.

This Article was written by Norma Jean Kennedy-Venable

Last Revised on September 12, 2023

Related Articles


Venable, Norma Jean. Cathedral State Park. Morgantown: West Virginia University.

Cite This Article

Kennedy-Venable, Norma Jean "Cathedral State Park." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 September 2023. Web. 25 June 2024.


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