A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held for the Country Roads Byway Visitor Center and the Hatfield McCoy Fountain Place Trail on Friday, Sept. 11, at 4:30 p.m. Among those participating in the event will be Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
According to Christy Bailey, executive director with the Coal Heritage Trail, the visitor’s center located in the former park and ride near Fountain Place Mall will encourage people to drive a scenic byway in Southern West Virginia.
“It was originally built as an interpretive center for the Country Roads Byway. It will encourage people to drive through the scenic byway which goes through Logan, Boone and Mingo counties,” Bailey said. “Through some partnerships, we have also brought in the Hatfield McCoy Trail Authority who will be operating it… It will also serve as a trail head for the Fountain Place Trail.”
The Country Roads Byway is a driving trail that loops through Boone, Logan and Mingo counties and features historical sites along the way including the Coal Heritage Museum in Madison, the Hatfield Cemetery at Sarah Ann, the Williamson Coal House, Blair Mountain and the Dingess Tunnel.
“It is a loop, you can get on or off at any point. It goes through an area with a lot of history,” Bailey said. “Not just coal history, but railroad history, the lumber… and of course the Hatfield-McCoy story. Those will be the stories that will be told there in the visitor’s center.”
Exhibits in the center were provided by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
“The Division of Culture and History has just done a fabulous job with the exhibits in there,” Bailey said.
Bailey said it took a long time to finally get the center open and it took the participation of a lot people to make it happen. Along with the Coal Heritage Authority, others working on completing the project include the Logan County Commission, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail Authority, and the Hatfield McCoy Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“It will be a visitor’s center for the entire region,” Bailey said. “It will be a place where visitors can stop and learn the history and get other information — where to stay, where to eat — things that visitor’s need to know,” Bailey said.
The ribbon cutting ceremony for both the Country Roads Byway Visitor Center and the Hatfield McCoy Fountain Place Trail will begin at 4:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 11, at the visitors center on the Rt. 73 Connector at Logan. Along with Governor Tomblin and local officials, others scheduled to attend include Amy Schuler Goodwin, Commissioner of Tourism, and Randall Reid Smith, Commissioner of the Division of Culture and History.
Martha Sparks is a news reporter and can be reached at 304-752-6950, ext. 1728, or via Twitter at @MarthaSparks.