Monday, November 28, 2016

Watts returns to W.Va. as superintendent of New River Gorge National River

Watts named superintendent
The former chief of interpretation and education for national parks in southern West Virginia, Lizzie Watts has been named superintendent of New River Gorge National River, the Gauley River National Recreation Area, and the Bluestone National Scenic River, according to Mile Caldwell, director for the National Park Service's northeast region.

“The Northeast Region is pleased to welcome Lizzie back,” said Caldwell. “Her vast expertise and knowledge in leadership, park management, and community development is an asset to the National Park Service.”

Watts, a 25-year veteran of the park service, served five regions in various disciplines throughout the country. She began her career at Blue Ridge Parkway as a park ranger, while attending North Carolina State University.

From Blue Ridge Parkway, she held various law enforcement positions at Olympic National Park, George Washington Parkway, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hikers encouraged to hike to Long Point on Black Friday

New River Gorge Bridge from Long Point
Hiking proponents in southern West Virginia are encouraging area residents to eschew crowded stores on the afternoon after Thanksgiving Day and instead join in a group hike on the Long Point Trail, which leads to one of the best known scenic overlooks in New River Gorge National River.

The 3.2-mile hike to-and-from the rock outcrop at Long Point departs from the Long Point trailhead off Gatewood Road near Fayetteville at 10 a.m., according to a joint press release issued by the National Park Service and the regional activity initiative Active Southern West Virginia.

The easy-to-moderate trail leads to one of the best views of the gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge. Hiker should wear appropriate shoes and anticipate potentially wintry weather.

The distance hiked will count toward totals for the New River Gorge 100-Mile Challenge, a hiking initiative being promoted in conjunction with the of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, according to ranger Jodi French-Burr.

Photo courtesy
Friday, November 4, 2016

Alliance receives grant to study Fayette, Nicholas trail network

On the Cranberry River. Photo courtesy Mike Boyes.
The New River Gorge Trail Alliance has received a $140,000 planning grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to study the feasibility of a regionally-connected bike trail system in Fayette and Nicholas counties in south-central West Virginia.

Working in partnership with West Virginia Connecting Communities, the alliance will spend the next year planning a regional network of trails in the counties, according to alliance president Bill Wells.

“Our vision is to join together successful existing bike trails, such as the Tri-Rivers Trail, the Meadow River Trail, and the White Oak Trail, into a larger network of trails,” Wells said.

“By connecting the Monongahela National Forest to the New River Gorge National River, our region’s status will continue to grow as an East Coast adventure recreation destination.”
Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fayetteville, W.Va., growing as a popular winter-tourism destination

Fayetteville, W.Va., in Winter. Courtesy Tim Naylor.
Many communities that depend on warm-weather tourism suffer through winter, but one West Virginia town renowned as a destination for whitewater rafting is breaking out of that cycle.

Hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking have increased year-round in Fayetteville, benefiting a growing number of eclectic shops, restaurants, and cultural venues that are particularly attractive in winter.

According to Sally Kiner, executive director of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitor Bureau, the expansion appears to be the result of a discovery of the region as a full-spectrum outdoor-recreation destination.

"The Fayetteville area has long been known as a destination for high adventure, but visitors have found that it's far more than that, and that's a promising development," she said.

"One happy result is the growing popularity of Fayetteville as a winter destination. Winter is an ideal time of year to visit. The landscape is beautiful, our varied lodging is generally discounted, and its restaurants are somewhat less crowded -- you won't have to stand in long lines waiting to be seated."
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Friends seek donations to rebuild Turkey Spur stair and boardwalk

Stairs atop Turkey Spur before vandalism
A charitable organization established to support national park in southern West Virginia is asking for donations to help repair a vandalized observation area atop Turkey Spur Rock, an overlook perched high above the New River at Grandview.

Members of Friends of the New River Gorge National River are requesting that contributions be made to match a grant sought to replace the system of stairs and boardwalks, a cost estimated at $50,000, according to the organization's website.

The stair and boardwalk were built by the National Park Service in 2015 and replaced an earlier boardwalk that had been built to the top of the sandstone formation in the 1970s. The new structures were burned by a yet-to-be-identified arsonist in 2016.

The National Park Service does not have funds to replace the structures, which provided access to views of the New River more than 1,000 feet below. The spur has long been among the park's most popular tourist attractions, and a climb to the top has been a tradition for many park visitors.

Members are requesting that contributors donate by visiting the Friends website and selecting the donate button on the lower right of the page or by attending a fundraising event at the Outback Steakhouse in Beckley on November 15. Contributors will find more information on the event at the organization's website and on its Facebook page.
Friday, October 7, 2016

Kentucky Headhunters to debut songs from new album at Bridge Day concert

Volunteer hangs 2016 Bridge Jam poster.
Due to play one of West Virginia's last autumn festivals in Fayetteville on Bridge Day weekend (October 14-15), Richard Young of The Kentucky Headhunters says the Southern Rock band will reveal songs from their new album during the concert. More than 2,000 are expected to attend the second annual Bridge Jam music festival being held in conjunction with Bridge Day, which Young says he's excited to witness.

"It’s gonna be kind of exciting to see people jump off the bridge," the founding guitarist said of parachutists who leap from the landmark New River Gorge Bridge during the festival, which itself attracts more than 100,000 to the small West Virginia town.

The Kentucky Headhunters lead the lineup of bands scheduled to play Bridge Jam, which Young says is taking place at an optimal time for the band. "We write songs in the fall. It’s my favorite time of year," Young said, adding that the band will unveil new music, yet to be released, during the concert.

Friday, September 30, 2016

2016 Bridge Day concert expected to attract thousands

Kentucky Headhunters to headline Bridge Day 2016 concert
Organizers of the second annual Bridge Day concert in Fayetteville say they expect several thousand guests to attend the two-day line-up, thanks in part to inclusion of a big-name band -- The Kentucky Headhunters, pioneers of the Southern Rock genre.

Bill Wells, co-founder of the October 14-15 performance series, says response is exceeding what he and other proponents had expected from the fledgling event, now in its second year.

"Our numbers are far better than they had been at this time last year, which we think is partly a result of securing The Kentucky Headhunters, a band whose audience has a strong overlap with Bridge Day festival-goers in West Virginia," Wells said.

"However, we've accomplished much more in this second year in terms of attracting an audience -- adding camping, coordinating with local events, and building on the area's strength as an outdoor-recreation destination."

Toward those ends, Bridge Jam will feature performances on a full stage near the historic district in Fayetteville as well as a late night bonfire venue.

Southern W.Va. "hidden" photography on display at Tamarack

Detail from photo by Patrick Hutchinson
Photography documenting historic resources in southern West Virginia will be on display at the Tamarack arts center off I-77 at Beckley through the end of October, according to Jodi French-Burr, ranger for the New River Gorge National River.

Thirty-nine images submitted by amateur photographers captured hidden and not-so-hidden elements of southern West Virginia’s heritage, according to Burr, an organizer of the Hidden History Photography Contest sponsored annually by the National Park Service and the National Coal Heritage Area.

"This contest gives participants a chance to share their love of history through the lens of a camera," says French-Burr. "These photos tell parts of our region’s rich history through images."

Many of these images highlight state and national parks of southern West Virginia and in the region's National Coal Heritage Area.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Volunteers needed for Friends of the Gorge clean-up

Friends of New River Gorge National River is calling for volunteers to help remove steps at Grandview's Tunnel Trail that were impacted by arson in April, according to Julena Campbell, public affairs officer for the National Park Service.

The Saturday event has been arranged to take place in conjunction with National Public Lands Day and is the non-profit organization's first volunteer event, Campbell said.

Volunteers should meet at the Grandview visitor center in the national park between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Volunteers and park staff will demolish and remove the burned steps and carry them off the trail with the assistance of a rope line. No special skills are necessary.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Kanawha Valley antiques dealers reinvest in New River market

Keith and Drema Wood
Two veteran antiques dealers renowned for their expertise in glassware and West Virginia collectibles have relocated to Fayetteville and are enjoying success in its burgeoning antiques market.

Drema and Keith Wood, co-owners of D&K Collectibles, say they couldn't he happier with their move to the town near the New River Gorge that is increasingly known as a state destination for pickers.

"Fayetteville is quickly becoming an antiques market that people are talking about across the state and beyond," says Drema Wood.

"By our count there are now 12 antiques shops in Fayette County alone, and, in this business, the more shops, the merrier."

Earlier this summer, after Keith Wood learned that his primary job was being eliminated, the couple decided to leave their long-term location in the Nitro Antiques Mall and search for a location nearer their home in Boomer.

The Woods had been aware of the potential in Fayetteville, but two months after opening they say the soundness of their decision has been confirmed.
Monday, August 29, 2016

Work Progressing on Mt. Hope's "Mural on Main Street"

Work is progressing on a mural on the DuBois-on-Main building, an African-American museum on the corner of Main Street and South Virginia Street in Mount Hope, West Virginia (WV). During segregation, Mount Hope's historically black schools were named for William Edward Burghardt "W. E. B." Du Bois (February 23, 1868 - August 27, 1963), noted African-American sociologist, historian, and civil rights activist. Racial integration occurred during the 1956-1957 school term, and DuBois High School was renamed Mount Hope High School. The building is still extant and is located on the WV-61 by-pass on the northeast end of town.

Mural on DuBois on Main Museum
Mural going up on the DuBois on Main museum...
DuBois on Main Mural
... will look something like this when completed.

The school depicted in the mural is the DuBois High School building built in 1927 at a cost of $75,000, which was destroyed by fire on June 22, 1950. Approximately 500 junior and high school students were enrolled at the school during the school term that ended just prior to the fire.

Park service to burn fields near Grandview this autumn

Park service to burn fields near Grandview to help bird species.
Perhaps nothing evokes a memory of Indian Summer in West Virginia as well as the scent of bonfires, though the fires that burn in the national park near Grandview between September 6 and October 15.

Fire managers plan to burn approximately 26 acres in the “Carper Fields” area near Grandview, approximately five miles north of Interstate 64. The burn is expected to take several hours to complete, according to Julena Campbell, Public Affairs Officer and Chief of Interpretation & Cultural Resources for the New River Gorge National River.
Friday, August 19, 2016

Park Service seeks info on vandalism at New River Gorge landmark

Rangers seek information on vandalism at Long Point.
The National Park Service (NPS) seeks information in its investigation of vandalism at an overlook on the Long Point Trail near Fayetteville in the New River Gorge National River.

Sometime on or before Sunday, August 14, 2016, one or more persons used green and orange spray paint to scrawl their initials and a heart on the rocky outcrop at the end of the popular 1.6-mile trail that provides an exceptional view of the New River Gorge Bridge.

The graffiti, which reads “AW ♥ TK,” measures nearly eight feet long and two feet tall, according to Jeff West, acting superintendent for the national river.

“Graffiti is illegal everywhere, but it’s particularly disheartening to see the lack of respect shown in this case,” West said.
Monday, August 15, 2016

Log home construction takes center stage in New River Gorge region

Skybridge at AOTG
Two hundred years after they first appeared, log homes are growing popular again in West Virginia, according to a designer who's drawing on traditional mountain forms for inspiration.

Though log construction never quite disappeared in the mountains around the New River Gorge, Vickie Darby says luxury log homes are being built with greater frequency, notably near parks and recreation areas.

"Here in the New River Gorge region we've witnessed a dramatic increase in demand -- not only where cabins and luxury homes are concerned, but in uncommon cases where recreation facilities are being developed," she says. "In recent years we've been asked to provide materials for everything from bridges at rafting basecamps to bathhouses for Boy Scouts."
Saturday, July 30, 2016

U.S. 19 welcome center on schedule for Scout Jamboree

US-19 traffic races past welcome center site
Construction of a U.S. 19 welcome center for the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve near Mount Hope is on track for completion in time for the national Boy Scout Jamboree in July 2017. According to Gary Hartley, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, the construction site on the expressway has been graded, and construction of the J.W. & Hazel Ruby West Virginia Welcome Center has begun in earnest and will continue full force, weather permitting.

The center will serve as the main entrance and parking area for the 11,000-acre reserve and will include seating areas, retail and exhibit spaces, a climbing wall, and restroom facilities accessible from both inside and outside, Hartley said. Reserve guests will also be welcomed and credentialed as they arrive at the center, which will provide parking for more than 12,000 vehicles. Plazas outside will allow groups to congregate before they are transported to the Scott Summit Center within the reserve. The site will also feature J.W. Point, an overlook offering views of the mountainous landscape.

Center will park more than 12,000 cars.
The Summit Bechtel Reserve draws thousands of visitors each year, and plays host to the national Scout jamboree every four years, welcoming more than 80,000 visitors to the New River Gorge region. The reserve will host the 2019 World Scout Jamboree, which will bring Scouts from all over the world.

For more information on the Bechtel Reserve and the Ruby Welcome Center, visit the Scouting Newsroom: BSA breaks ground on new welcome center for Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.
Monday, July 11, 2016

Lodging providers encouraged to browse New River listings

Mavis Manor, advertising since 2004
Lodging can be a profitable endeavor in the New River region of southern West Virginia, and we're helping lodging providers reach larger audiences as we rebuild our landmark compendium at See: New River Lodging Guide.

If you own or operate a lodging facility anywhere in southern West Virginia, please take a minute to browse our listings and consider contacting David Sibray at 304-575-7390 to determine how we might help provide you what you need to help increase your business. Whether or not you decide to advertise, he'll be happy to provide advice and freely share his knowledge of the market.
Saturday, July 9, 2016

Train Day welcomes visitors to ghost town at Thurmond

Thurmond in the early 1900s
Walking tours, educational programs, and activities for children will highlight the third annual Train Day in the historic ghost town of Thurmond July 16 in the heart of the New River Gorge National River.

Bluegrass music and a hike along the wall of the gorge will also be features of the 10 a.m.-to-2 p.m. celebration of life along the rails, according to Dave Bieri, a supervising ranger for the southern district of the national park.
Friday, July 8, 2016

Rangers schedule hikes in remote Bluestone canyon

Tram at Bluestone River
Through October 2016, rangers will lead a series of scheduled hikes through the canyon of the Bluestone River -- one of the least-explored regions of national park in southern West Virginia.

Two-mile walks along the Bluestone National Scenic River are regularly scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. every Saturday through October 8 at the lower end of the tram at Pipestem Resort State Park. Participants should bring $2.25 for the return tram ride.

Ten-mile hikes along the trail that follows the grade of the old Bluestone Turnpike have also been scheduled for August 6 and September 4. The hikes also depart from the base of the tram at 10 a.m. and follow the river downstream to Bluestone State Park. A free shuttle is provided for the return trip to Pipestem.

Hikers should wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring lunch and water. Reservations are required for the turnpike hike, and participants must call 304-894-2129 or email to register.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

National Park areas minimally damaged by floods

At Masons Branch, Gauley River
National park areas in southern West Virginia survived recent floods with minimal impact, though several areas will be closed until further notice, according to Trish Kicklighter, superintendent of the New River Gorge National River, the Bluestone National Scenic River, and the Gauley River National Recreation Area.

Roadways closed in the park areas include Keeney's Creek Road from one mile below Winona to Nuttallburg and the lower beach access road near Sandstone Falls. Campsites closed in the park include walk-in campsites at Grandview Sandbar and Glade Creek. The drive-in sites at both campgrounds remain open. River-access sites closed in the parklands include points along the road along New River at Hellems Branch and Woods Ferry and the Mason Branch on Gauley River.

New River Gorge fireworks to draw crowd

Fireworks over New River Gorge
More than 1,500 guests are expected to indulge in fun and fireworks this year during the annual July 3 Family Carnival on Sunday at Adventures on the Gorge. Many more are sure to gather along country roads near the resort to witness what's become one of the region's hallmark displays.

Beginning at 4 p.m., the family fest features plenty of activities for children, including games and contests with prizes and access to the resort's pool near the rim of the gorge. Admission is free, though food and access to programs may not always be, according to P.J. Stevenson, marketing director for the resort.
Saturday, June 11, 2016

Guided hikes offered at new Brookside center

New River at Brookside
The new guided hiking program at the Camp Brookside Environmental Education Center is providing hikers a gentle venue for hiking near Hinton, WV, in June and July. The hour-long hikes guided by National Park Service rangers take advantage of the center's easy access from WV-20 and the more moderately graded bottomland terrain along the New River there.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Waterpark expansion expected to double guest traffic

With the addition of two 300-foot water slides and expansions that include the addition of new beach, a new cantina, and 40 new inflatable giant water toys, officials at West Virginia's largest outdoor-adventure resort predict traffic will double at its five-acre water park in 2016 .

More than 80,000 guests are expected to visit ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill this summer, and many of those visitors will be coming specifically to enjoy Wonderland Waterpark, according to Heidi Prior, marketing director for the resort on the rim of the New River Gorge.

Local hero rescues neglected monument on New River

Plumley at Beury Monument
PRINCE, W.Va. -- Ralph Plumley did what no one else had managed. He rescued a long-neglected monument that had been raised to Colonel Joseph Lawton Beury (1842-1903), the first man to ship coal out of the New River Coal Field. While several agencies debated how and when and whether to rescue the brier-draped obelisk, Ralph Plumley quietly did so.

"I just thought saving it was the right thing to do," Plumley said while surveying his handiwork. "I didn't know that anyone else was trying to do anything about it. I just wanted people to know it was there and to be able to visit."

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