Coal Heritage Trail
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (1998/2009)
- Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
- Length97 miles
Wind through mountains and valleys showcasing America's remarkable industrial heritage. The region commemorates the history and culture of the coal industry and the impact it has had on the physical and social environment. Numerous resources line the corridor, including coal company towns, tipples, railroad structures, and reclaimed mining lands.
Story of the Byway
The land surrounding Mount St. Helens, which sits west of the smaller Mount Adams, is still showing signs of recovery after the May 1980 eruption that turned 200 square miles of forestland into a lifeless landscape. The blast zone is now a world-renowned area of scientific research into the regeneration of living systems following volcanic disturbance.
The southern terminus of the byway starts at the border of West Virgina and Virginia, and it travels north along US52 until the road turns into SR16; Take SR16 in a curving path north to where the byway ends in the town of Beckley, at the junction of SR16 and I-77.
Points of Interest
Coal Heritage Trail
The Coal Heritage Trail is a driving trail that winds through more than (13 counties) 187 rugged miles of scenic industrial heritage, where thousands of hard-working miners labored to produce the coal which created modern America.
savory cuisine, carefree entertainment, and intriguing history in “Nature’s Air-Conditioned City.”
Ashland Company Store
In 1915, the community of Ashland boasted of an inn, two schools, two churches, and a population of 1,500. Miners lived in company-owned housing and were paid in "scrip" rather than cash, which the workers used to purchase nearly everything - food, clothing, and supplies from the company store. Each coal company produced its own unique scrip - highly collectible today! Today Ashland has 29 residents, many of whom worked the mines but now own their coal camp homes and enjoy life in this quiet community.
Princeton Railroad Museum
At the Princeton Railroad Museum, you'll discover the colorful and dynamic heritage of railroading, the industry that built our nation. You'll find vibrant railroad art, fascinating exhibits and a remarkable array of railroad artifacts that tell the story of the men and women who worked on the railroad.
Historic City of Welch
Welch was once a prosperous city during the coal mine boom of the early 20th century. Once the boom ended, the city fell on hard times. When presidential candidate John F. Kennedy visited Welch by train in 1960, he saw a city that was seriously decaying and had a very high poverty rate caused by the declining coal mining industry. It was his visit here that was believed to be the basis of the aid brought to the Appalachian region by the Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson administrations. The first recipients of food stamps were the Chloe and Welch watertower.jpeg Alderson Muncy family of Welch. The family, which included fifteen children, received $95 worth of stamps from Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman on May 29, 1961 as a crowd of reporters watched.
Located in the Southern tip of West Virginia, Bramwell was settled by wealthy coal mine owners at the end of the nineteenth century. Once considered the richest small town in America, Bramwell was home to as many as nineteen millionaires and their families who made their fortunes in the abundantly rich Pocahontas Coalfield.
Chief Logan Museum in the Park
This 4,000-acre park is one of the most visited in the state park system. The park features a 25-site campground, outdoor amphitheater, and wildlife center. The recreation enthusiast can enjoy miles of hiking trails, a swimming pool with water slide, tennis courts, and miniature golf. Picnic shelters and playgrounds are found throughout the park.
Location of the infamous Battle of Blair Mountain between mine workers trying to unionize their jobs and agents of the Baldwin-Felts detective agency hired by the mining operators.
Blenko Glass Factory
Exquisite color, skilled craftsmen, and creative designs have made Blenko famous in the ancient craft of hand-blown glass. Over the years, talented designers have developed contemporary new designs for our skilled artisans, who have learned the difficult techniques of glass blowing through many years of practice.
A one-stop-shop for West Virginia culture, heritage, handcrafts, fine art, regional cuisine and music, Tamarack employs a rigorous jurying process that ensures product quality and authenticity. Resident artisans work daily in observation studios to demonstrate textiles, wood and pottery.
Travel from the Coal Mines to the New River
Starting from the middle of the Coal Heritage Trail at Beckley on SR 16, you will be able to experience so much along this Trail in just one day. To start off your trip, the perfect site is the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. You can spend plenty of time here while also having enough to travel along the rest of the Byway. If you head north along route 16, you can stop by the towns of Prosperity or Mount Hope to grab some food or shop in one of the many stores along the way. While in Mount Hope, you can travel through their Historic District to experience and learn the rich history of the area.
If shopping is your thing, the nearby towns of Whipple and Oak Hill are the perfect stop after travelling more north along the Byway. In Whipple you can stop by the Whipple Company Store, and in Oak Hill there is a Commercial District that has many shops and stores available to anyone.
To experience more history, Fayetteville’s Historic District can be found north of Oak Hill. Located right along the New River, the picturesque views in the background as you take in the history of the area is the perfect combination. Here you can also find the New River Gorge Bridge and the Canyon Rim Visitors Center to get more information about fun activities in the area.
The Byway makes a loop here around the towns of Hico and Ansted, so stop by those towns as well to experience everything that you can along this beautiful Byway!
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