Extraordinary rock "castle" being rediscovered in West Virginia town

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Extraordinary rock
The tower on the Castle Rock ascends to more than 125 feet above the Guyandotte River. (Photo: David Sibray)

PINEVILLE, W.Va. — Looming above the county seat of Wyoming County amid the mountains of southern West Virginia, a "forgotten" pinnacle of sandstone more than 125 feet tall is attracting attention again as tourism grows in the region.

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Castle Rock, or The Pinnacle, dominates the upper valley of the Guyandotte River in Pineville, West Virginia, where Pinnacle and Rockcastle creeks converge. Once a favorite picnic spot, the extraordinary rock began to lose its importance as coal mining took center stage in the early 1900s.

Castle Rock overlooks the Guyandotte River at Pineville, West Virginia.

However, tourism has become a chief economic force in the region, and the castle is gaining attention again, according to Timmy Redden, executive director of the .

"Forgotten is a good word for what happened," says Redden. "Many people seemed to forget it was there."

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He says travelers from abroad, visitors to Twin Falls State Park, and motorists touring the Hatfield-McCoy Trails more frequently visit the rock, which rises behind the county visitor center.

The Wyoming County Courthouse rises along a mountain wall across downtown Pineville from Castle Rock.

State and local officials are now developing a management plan for the scenic rock and preparing to carefully open views masked by summer foliage.

The view north from the rock looks over downtown Pineville, its historic courthouse, and its massive stone walls worked and raised by Italian immigrants. To the south, it looks across the Guyandotte.

According to the West Virginia Geologic Survey, the rock stack was formed by the erosive power of the Guyandotte and Rockcastle Creek.

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Over millions of years, the latter has changed courses, weathering a channel to the east and west of the rock, isolating it from nearby sections that form cliffs along the Guyandotte and Pinnacle Creek.

A 1927 map designated the rock as "The Pinnacle." (Source: U.S. Geologic Survey)

The upper two-thirds of the castle, including its "tower," are weathered from the Pineville Sandstone, which is exceptionally tough at the formation.

The rock is the centerpiece of Castle Rock Park, a public area of about one acre that the manages. A stone stair ascends to the rock's first level, which includes a picnic area and a boardwalk around the base of the rock tower.

The castle and visitor center are at 124 Castle Ave, Pineville, WV 24874.

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Scenic overlooks can benefit West Virginia communities

Trees and shrubbery protect an overlook of the New River.

As travel and residency grow across West Virginia, communities are turning to their scenic potential to bolster the economy. Some have found that overlooks can attract tourists and increase desirability without much expense, though there are particulars of design that can render an overlook a beauty spot or management problem.


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