Some of the areas can be pretty trashed in SW Va; garbage, dust, mountain top removal and high wall strip jobs. Along with Huge trucks, coal tipples, nasty streams. I have traveled about in the US and its no worse than what I've seen on the rez in Az, pueblos of NM, and urban/rural areas everywhere. Its not to prevalent out west b/c there aren't many people out west. Appalachia/Cumberland Plateau has some really nice areas. Norton ain't really happening (except for the DQ) but 4 miles from downtown is the tower on High Knob(at 4223 ft its a mountain to you and I but an aquifer to Mitchler and Covill). In clear weather its an outstanding view and (believe it or not) the tallest mountain between Rogers and the Black Hills (At least north of the Tenn state line)
I've hiked/backpacked in various places in "Appalachia": Big S Fork, Cumberland Gap, Pine Mt, Big A Mt etc. On the Pine Mt trail (Ky/Va border) we had some really nice sections of trail with cliffs, arches and views. One trail section really sucked but overall it was a good hike. Granted some of the views showed reclaimed Mt top removal and active strip jobs but most offered outstanding views.
Every part of our country is scared by man, some worse than others but its all beautiful. The eastern views and wild areas are less numerous or as large as the ones west. There are some views here (and everywhere) that are really without comparison; a winter morning from the summit of Grandfather or Mitchell after a cold front has passed (views in excess of 80 miles).
I hope you (or anybody) doesn't take this as a tirade but we all most too fast sometimes (as I have been guilty as well).We could all be better stewards of our land, water, and air. I guess we miss the forest for the trees. There is alot of stuff in eastern WVa to see; New River Gorge, Seneca Rocks, Dolly Sods, Roaring Plains, Greenbriar rail to trail, Cass RR. I've only seen a little of the above, hope to hike into Roaring Plains in fall (and not be told I have a pretty mouth.)