The original Hawks Nest Museum that stored the Calhoun Collection was closed at the end of 2006 due to the lack of ADA accessibility. To keep the collection in the area the Town of Ansted took over part of the Calhoun Collection and the original Hawks Nest State Park display cases and opened the Ansted Culture & Heritage Museum on January 13, 2007. Thanks to the DNR and the Division of Culture and History, Smeltzer's water-colors have been faithfully duplicated and are placed in the original display cases. The original paintings have been archived by the Division of Culture and History.
Along with the Calhoun Collection, the Ansted Culture & Heritage Museum also has the Elwood Maples Coal Mining Collection that contains a lifetime of coal mining memorabilia. Mr. Maples wished the collection to be available for the general public to see so that the tools and history of West Virginia coal mining would not be forgotten. The museum also features part of the African American History of Ansted Collection on loan from the African American Family Tree Museum. Although the museum is small it is packed with rich history and artifacts from the area and the significance of this collection is that it tells the history of the Midland Trail from pre-pioneer days to the modern industrial era of the 1940s.
The Ansted Culture & Heritage Museum is located at 19940 Midland Trail, Ansted, WV 25812 and is open weekdays 8am -12pm & 1pm - 4pm, appointments can be made for groups of 10+ (call 304-658-5901) to see the museum on weekends. There is no admission fee but donations are greatly appreciated.
Ansted Culture and Heritage Museum
In July of 1936, West Virginia's Civilian Conservation Corps obtained approval from the National Park Service to begin work on the log and stone building which would house the Hawks Nest Museum at one of the state's newest parks. While work progressed on the structure, the state was working out details of how best to preserve and exhibit a large collection of artifacts it had purchased from Judge Harland Calhoun of Moorefield. Calhoun's father had acquired items ranging from arrowheads, muskets, and powder horns to pioneer household equipment as well as Confederate money and a variety of early financial records.
Portions of the collection wound up at several state parks, including Cacapon and Lost River. Much of the collection, though, came to the new Hawks Nest Museum and into the care of artist Sterling Smeltzer. Smeltzer, associated with the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), was responsible for turning the huge collection of seemingly unrelated objects into a series of displays detailing the history of WV and the Midland Trail up to that point. His water color paintings and detailed notes brought the collection to life.
The story begins with the migrating buffalo and early Native Americans who broke the path which would finally become the Midland Trail. Hardy pioneers would follow as they pushed westward and created settlements in the wilderness. The Civil War changed life for many - and now statehood. Finally industrial development - timber, coal, chinaware, and more.