HUNTINGTON — A canoeist traveling from Oregon to New York stopped in Huntington on Monday evening on his journey to learn about American culture and history.
Neal Moore began traveling through the country in February 2020 with the goal of reaching the Statue of Liberty by New Year’s Eve 2021. Entering Huntington by stopping at Harris Riverfront Park was the first time he has visited West Virginia, he said.
“I’ve been excited about West Virginia from the very beginning,” Moore said. “A big reason for this journey for me is to try to explore my own backyard, to come back to my home country and see places I haven’t been before, and this is my first time to the Appalachian plateau.”
Moore is at about 6,000 miles so far of the total 7,500 miles, and his trip entails traveling 22 rivers and touching 22 different states. He planned out about 100 towns and cities to visit before beginning his trip, but he has stopped in unplanned areas as well, he said.
Moore said the goal of the trip is to learn more about American history from the people who live here. From rural communities to bustling cities, Moore said he has enjoyed his time learning about people’s lives and has stumbled upon great stories in towns he did not originally plan to visit.
With plans to stay in Huntington for a few days, Moore said he hopes to learn about the culture that surrounds the town. After Huntington, he plans to visit Point Pleasant and Charleston, and he said he is excited to see the state’s capital.
“I’m just looking forward to sampling the local cuisine and learning some of the history and the culture and really the rich heritage,” he said. “What I’ve seen so far coming up this river between Kentucky and Ohio is sort of the Appalachian experience in motion over the years, that migratory nation but also the sense of community and sense of pride as well.”
Having started his journey just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic escalated in the United States, Moore said he had to consider returning home and what his safest options would be if he continued. Since he had already attempted the trip in 2018, Moore said he was determined to finish it this time, and he believed there were not many safer options than being in a canoe on the river by himself.
Moore’s journey started out in Astoria, Oregon, and he traveled upstream through Washington, Idaho and Montana in just 97 days. He then traveled down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers to reach New Orleans, Louisiana.
After finishing out his current stretch on the Ohio River, Moore will continue on into the Kanawha and Allegheny rivers, through the Chadakoin River eventually leading to Lake Erie. He will then head east and south to eventually end up at the Hudson River.