MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two West Virginia University professors are releasing a book exploring the geologic makeup of the Mountain State.

Titled “Roadside Geology of West Virginia,” the book will delve deep into West Virginia geological history, going as far back as 250 million years. Written by WVU Professors Joe Lebold and Christopher Wilkinson, the book has been in the works for 4 years.

“We conceived of the idea in the fall of 2013,” said Wilkinson. “We got a contract from the publisher in February of 2014, and the book came into our hands this past September 2018.”

In a contrast of specialties, Lebold teaches geology at WVU — leading to a unique partnership. Wilkinson is a professor emeritus at WVU’s School of Music. Despite their different backgrounds, the idea of a book started with a common interest in geology and it eventually led to discussions during office hours held by Lebold regarding geology. Then, Wilkinson noticed something interesting that led to an idea.

“I saw on his bookshelf a number of the volumes in this series, learned from him that the Mountain State was not included,” he said. “And after thinking about this, realized that if we collaborated we could produce meant for the general public.”

There were multiple goals for both Lebold and Wilkinson when writing “Roadside Geology of West Virginia.” Aside from writing a book where essentially anyone could pick it up and understand it, there was also a goal to provide as much detail to the geological history of the state as possible. This includes many major highways across the state and even lesser known routes in some of the more remote parts of West Virginia.

“You know we sort of looked at a map and wanted to make sure we captured the variety in West Virginia,” said Lebold. “So we sort of planned out these series of routes where we started on the outside, so we kind of did a periphery of the state and worked our way in.”

Despite their abilities to go extremely deep into the Mountain State’s geological history, there were not as many surprises as they were expecting, with most of the rock being generally the same. Even though there was a lack of variety, there was still a lot to tell about the area and its past.

“There’s wasn’t a huge amount of variety, but definitely when those rocks are smushed about 250 million years ago, that really gave us the opportunity to talk about some very different things along the roadside,” said Lebold.

The book was published by Mountain Press Publishing Company and is available on Amazon.

Story by Joe Nelson