Quirky Attraction: Cheat Summit Fort and Cheat Mountain, West Virginia

cheat summit fort milroy graves

Cheat Summit Fort
Location: Monongahela National Forest, near Cheat Mountain (West Virginia)
When to visit: Daylight hours
Cost: Free
Time needed: 20-40 minutes
Website: battlefields.org/visit/heritage-sites/cheat-summit-fort (unofficial)

Cheat Summit Fort is a former Union fort site from the Civil War. This is a quirky attraction that I had no idea existed — I stumbled upon it while driving and hiking through Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.

monongahela national forest - battle of cheat mountain
There’s so much history in Mongahela National Forest with the Battle of Cheat Mountain and the Civil War graves at Cheat Summit Fort.

Keep reading to learn about the history of Cheat Summit Fort, and to see photos and a description of my own visit to this historic fort.

How to Visit the Civil War Graves at Cheat Summit Fort

Here’s a simple map of the area. You can see that the Battle of Cheat Mountain location is within five miles of the Civil War Graves at Cheat Fort Summit.

visit cheat mountain battle fort summit

One of the most interesting things at this site is a marker showing the former location of Civil War graves.

Union forces temporarily buried their dead in a shallow grave here. After the war, they were exhumed and transferred to a national cemetery.

There’s not a whole lot left here in terms of physical structures, but diagrams give visitors an idea of what the fort used to look like.

cheat summit fort cabin remains

You can see the “earthworks” here, which look like long mounds of soil, behind which soldiers could hide.

The fort (also known as Fort Milroy) was abandoned by Union forces in the Spring of 1862 after a bitter winter there. Now it’s a place for us to go hiking and take in the historic features.

The buildings described in this historical marker sign are not there anymore. So you’ll have to use your imagination to picture how the scene would have looked.

I visited the site in April, and there wasn’t much to see, aside from the earthworks mounds and the historic signs. The trees and forest were still in their winter phase.

cheat summit fort hike

The informational board attempts to tell you what you’re looking at.

The sign informs visitors that during the fall of 1861, this fort housed up to 5000 Union soldiers, many of whom were dispatched to participate in nearby battles.

fort informational sign

The winter of 1861-62 was rough, with very cold temperatures and damp conditions that began as early as September. Many men and horses lost their lives during the winter, according to later accounts from soldiers.

The fort was finally abandoned in 1862. Colonel Augustus Van Dyke wrote, “With what a light step all started. Soon on the road turning at the brow of the hill, the Fourteenth (Regiment) took what I fondly hope is their last look at Cheat Mountain.

History of Cheat Summit Fort

From the top of the fort, soldiers could watch over the nearby valleys for approaching enemy troops. General George McClellan ordered the fort to be built to protect the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate troops attempted an attack here in 1861, but they were driven back before they could reach the fort.

That same year, soldiers from Cheat Summit Fort attacked Camp Allegheny, but were driven back.

It is believed this was one of the first places to use telegraph technology in the Civil War.

Cheat Summit Fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places three decades ago to signify its importance.

Fort Milroy Cemetery is also located in the vicinity of the fort, so you may want to stop by there to see some really old graves.

The fort site is roughly a 22-minute drive (14 miles) from Huttonsville, West Virginia, a nearby town of roughly 200 people.

The fort sits about a 3-hour drive from the larger cities of Charleston, West Virginia and Lynchburg, Virginia.

For another quirky attraction in West Virginia, check out the unique Coal House in Williamson. And read about the time I got to pet a deer at my friend’s place in rural West Virginia.

For more war history, see my review of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Read about a Revolutionary War Road Trip along the East Coast.

Would you be interested to see the history at Cheat Summit Fort?

8 thoughts on “Quirky Attraction: Cheat Summit Fort and Cheat Mountain, West Virginia”

    1. That’s a good idea! The site is a bit out of the way, though, so I’m not sure it would get many tourists even if they did spend money to re-create it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *