Bluefield (West Virginia)

Chicory growing wild in Bluefield

Bluefield is a city of 11,451 people (as of 2000) in Mercer County, West Virginia. Along with Bluefield, Virginia, it forms the micropolitan area of the Bluefields.

Nestled at the foot of the 3,400-foot East River Mountain, Bluefield is the most elevated town in West Virginia, at 2,655 feet above sea level. The town is sometimes called "Summit City", because of its high altitude, and "Nature's Air-Conditioned City" for its pleasant summer temperatures. Since 1941, the Chamber of Commerce's "Lemonade Lassies" have passed out free lemonade on days when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. The airport thermometer is used to determine this, which is at the highest point in Bluefield. It can often exceed 90 in downtown Bluefield during the summer.

The area was first settled in the 1780s and incorporated in 1889. Named for the blue chicory fields in the area, Bluefield was a booming Norfolk and Western Railroad hub for the coal industry until the decline of coal in the 1960s. Today the city has an air of faded 1950s glory; some of the lovely homes have seen better days, the downtown is largely deserted, and passenger railways have given way to freight cars. Happily, the city is beginning to embark on an aggressive revitalization scheme, by restoring old buildings, attracting specialty shops and restaurants back to downtown, and focusing on tourism as a promising source of revenue. The town still retains its small-town Appalachian charm, with friendly people, beautiful scenery, and very low housing costs.

One of the best-known local residents is John Forbes Nash, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics and the subject of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. The town has yet to capitalize on this connection, however, so if you're a big fan of the man or the movie, you won't find a lot of related activities or sights in the area. Nash's boyhood home is currently undergoing renovation, and will likely be a listed historic site in the near future.

Get in

view of Bluefield from the East River Mountain

By car

Bluefield is located just off I-77, between Beckley in the north and Wytheville, Virginia in the south. Most people will use exit 1, although if you're travelling south to Bluefield, you may see a sign recommending that you get off at exit 9; this, however, is only a needless detour through Princeton. At Bluefield, I-77 becomes the West Virginia Turnpike; if you continue north from Bluefield, you'll encounter toll booths.

The other main roads that pass through the town are US-19, from Abingdon, Virginia in the southwest to Beckley in the north; US-52, from Williamson in the northwest to Wytheville, Virginia in the south; and US-460, from Grundy, Virginia in the west to Blacksburg, Virginia in the east.

By bus

By plane

Get around

Bring your car! Be aware that the area is rather mountainous, so if you stray from the main highways, you'll probably end up in some hilly terrain. It can be treacherous, especially in winter; but the upside, of course, is that the scenery is often spectacular.

There are also several streets in town that are very steep (Jefferson and S Mercer being good examples); traversing them in warm weather is nail-biting enough, but when the streets are covered with snow or ice, you definitely don't want to attempt it without four-wheel drive.

See

downtown Bluefield; Arts Center on left
  • First Fridays, Chicory Square. Live entertainment and food on the first Friday of each month.
  • Summit Players, 500 Bland St, +1 304 325-8000. Performs four plays per year. $25 for dinner theatre, $12 for matinees.

Do

  • Bluefield Wellness Center, 418 Federal St, +1 304 327-1695. Indoor track, treadmills, Nordic Trac Skiers, recline bicycles and Lifecycles, stairmasters and Lifesteps, rowing machines, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms and tanning beds. Day passes $5.
  • Greater Bluefield Community Center, 703 College Ave, +1 304 325-5707. Swimming pool, basketball, racquetball, gymnastics, aerobics, swimming and lifesaving classes, weight room and Nautilus. Day passes $6.

Events

Bluefield holds several festivals during the year:

Learn

The city newspaper is the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Buy

Eat

Bluefield isn't quite a mecca of cuisine these days; if you like fast food, you're in luck, but otherwise there aren't a whole lot of options.

Drink

Sleep

Hotels

Bed and Breakfasts

Go next

Routes through Bluefield

Charleston Princeton  N  S  Wytheville Charlotte
Huntington Bramwell  NW  SE  Wytheville Winston-Salem
Mount Sterling Grundy  W  E  Princeton Roanoke


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, December 30, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.