Davis, West Virginia
Drive ten miles north of Canaan Valley Ski Resort, and you’ll happen upon Davis, WV, a pint-sized town with a ten-gallon personality. With a population of only 660 residents, you might even call Davis a tiny town. In recent years it has become a haven of outdoor enthusiasts hailing from cities like D.C., Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. And that’s not by accident. Davis is situated at the nexus of some of West Virginia’s most prized public lands. From here, you stand at the doorstep of Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley state parks, Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area, the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and the Monongahela National Forest. We’re talking serious hiking, mountain biking, rafting, skiing, hunting, and fishing. Don’t worry, not-so-serious weekend warriors will find plenty of options, too. And, if you need to slow the pace, an afternoon spent in Davis’ shops might be just the right adventure.
Twin Towns—Something for Everyone
Speaking of shops, any description of Davis should include a mention of its companion town Thomas, WV, a short three miles away. Where Davis is a rough and tumble rapscallion with dirt under the nails and sweat on the brow, Thomas’ equally tiny main street beckons you with live music and eclectic art galleries. If ever there were a yin and yang of towns, these two are it.
History of Davis
Like all West Virginia towns, the story begins with natural resources. The land that is now Davis was originally purchased in 1882 by U.S. Senator Henry Gassaway Davis and coveted for its old-growth hardwoods. Davis extended the railroad from Thomas which was a booming coal town at the time. The rail connected the twin towns to bigger cities. Davis flourished with the export of timber, coal, and fur. In its heyday, at the turn of the 20th century, the town’s population swelled to 2,400, nearly four times its current population.
Alas, the old-growth trees were harvested, the animals trapped almost to extinction, and coal has dwindled over the last century. Davis’ population shrunk with the exhaustion of the natural resources and the town looked to reinvent itself. Lucky for West Virginia, the same lands that produce the world’s most valuable natural resources often make the most wild and wonderful adventure-lands.
Discover Davis for Yourself
The rivers and mountains, trails and forests—heck, even the gravity—accessible from Davis make this little nook the sort of place people love to claim they discovered first. Of course, some long-gone folks might have something to say about that. Back in 1882, people settled the town so quickly, they didn’t have time to remove the stumps from the first trees felled. That’s how Davis came to be called Stump Town.
And now you’ll want to know about Stumptown Ales, Davis’ own microbrewery. It’s not to be missed. The same goes for the restaurants you’ll find here.