West Virginia is 154 years old today, but who needs birthday cake and candles?
Why not celebrate our statehood in a special way?
Forget the birthday cake and candles.
Step on up to a penny press machine, put in a coin, turn the handle and watch the magic happen as it cranks out a souvenir embossed with a new design.
Sometimes called smashed, squashed or squished, elongated pennies are the perfect keepsake after being impressed with a special image that can be passed down from generation to generation.
Machines can be found at tourist destinations across the state, and a memory can usually be made for just 51 cents.
Highway rest stops, museums and state parks are great places to look for this kind of machine.
Souvenir pennies are different from place to place, and usually reflect something special about a specific location, region or part of state history.
Some machines produce an impression honoring coal miners, while others are all about the Mountaineers or feature the phrase “Wild and Wonderful” on them.
Other familiar images that have been used include the cardinal and flowering rhododendron.
Beckley’s exhibition coal mine has been featured, as well as Ogebay Resort’s Good Children’s Zoo in Wheeling.
There have also been pressed pennies with an image of the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville and the state Capitol in Charleston.
Folks who visit popular spots throughout the state have plenty of choices thanks to Cindy’s Cents, a Shepherdstown company that places machines in several different locations across the state.
At Blackwater Falls State Park, images include the infamous waterfall and the 214 steps leading down to it, as well as the nearby town of Davis.
Shepherd University is the focus at the Shepherdstown Visitors Center, where coins can sport images of McMurran Hall or the school’s ram mascot.
Cacapon Resort State Park, Tamarack, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Clay Center,River Riders, Hodge Podge Antiques, Bluestone Travel Plaza, Canaan Valley Resort, Camden Park and Big John’s Pizza also have machines featuring local images.
Collecting pressed pennies is a growing hobby, and is totally legal.
The nation’s first were created at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition that was held in Chicago, Illinois.