The announcement you have been waiting for
Hey there, my trail ridin’ buddies, Big Jim here. For more months than I can remember the big question that has been on everyone’s mind is - “when will Pocahontas come online?”
You see, for a myriad number of reasons beyond HMT‘s control, the project got behind. There were issues about where the trailhead could be located, getting legal paperwork signed, bad weather, etc… For example, one of the delays on Pocahontas was due to timber extraction! Given these challenges you can see how frustrating this was for EVERYBODY involved. But you do what you can do when it comes to challenges out of your control. The Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority and it’s field crew soldiered on, gritted their teeth, girded their loins and worked diligently.
And FINALLY!!!! - the good news came out from HMT HQ last week.
I came in from lunch and found a note to call Mike Pinkerton, our Marketing Director immediatly!
And Mike told me point blank- There was a target date at last for the Grand Opening of the new Pocahontas Trail System!!!
If things continue on track, the brand spankin’ new, eagerly anticipated Pocahontas Trail will be opened for you, our eager riders, on Memorial Day Weekend!
Of coarse, I have more good news for you too…
Earlier this year, HMT's Executive Director Jeff Lusk said the new Pocahontas Trail system in Mercer County will connect with the existing Indian Ridge trail system in McDowell County and the existing Pinnacle Creek system in Wyoming County. This is the key for the beginning of a long term project -connecting our different trail systems together!
In the course of talking with Deputy Director Johnny Fekete and Marketing Director Mike Pinkerton about Pocahontas long awaited opening, I found out some more big news that Johnny and Mike asked me to pass along on our McBlog page.
As soon as it was made official about Pocahontas premier date, it was posted on our Trail Riders community forum and our Facebook pages. And a prelim map was made available on our homepage. You may have noticed the map is not complete…That is because our field crews are still in the process of putting up signs. We don’t want anybody sneaking onto it before it is ready and getting lost, or wandering off of it into private property.
Pocahontas will be located near the town of Bramwell, and Mike Pinkerton and Johnny Fekete tell me they expect big things for that historic and friendly town. Bramwell has been the recipient of some other major tourism related projects in recent years.
Historic Bramwell is now known for the era in West Virginia history when many wealthy coal operators actually lived in the Mountain State. At one time, the town had a large population of millionaires and the old mansions that were built there in the early 20th century hark back to the “Gilded Age” of the earlier Victorian era.
Mike Pinkerton told me that there are some restaurants and a gas station in town where folks can get a warm meal and fuel up and that Bramwell has learned from other town’s experiences.
“They are welcoming ATVs into the town,” Pinkerton said, similar to how Gilbert and Man did. “They are going to be very ATV friendly. They have open arms!”
“It is a beautiful town too. It is one historical house after the other. There are mansions there from back in the coal boom days when coal company owners lived there. At one time during the year they have tours and they have refurbished the historical areas of the town too. It is very nice and they are in the process of fixing up the rail cars out in front of the old rail station. This will be a good thing for the community of Bramwell and for Hatfield-McCoy,” Mike told me. I have known him for many years and this was as excited as I have ever heard him. When Mike Pinkerton is excited about something you KNOW it is BIG.
While the trail should be ready for riders, the trailhead itself will be a little bit later in completion. But not to worry, my friends. There will be a two acre long parking lot and there will be temporary sanitation facilities for our visitors until the new permanent trailhead and visitor’s facility can be completed later this summer.
The Pocahontas trail system consists of more than just 60 total miles of trail by opening date. Not only will more mileage be added later, Pocahontas will actually make possible the next and possibly biggest stage of growth in Hatfield-McCoy’s history. It's the key in HMT's expansion plans!
As Johnny Fekete explained, Pocahontas will make possible the long-term goal of beginning to hook Hatfeild-McCoy’s different trails up together at last.
The trails in Mingo County (Buffalo Mountain and Rockhouse) will be connected to each other, and the Pocahontas Trail system in Mercer County will connect with the existing Indian Ridge trail system in McDowell County and the existing Pinnacle Creek system. Along the way Logan (Bearwallow and Rockhouse) will be connected which in turn will connect with Mingo County. You can see what this means for the future. In time, you will be able to get onto the trails in one county and ride them through several counties, only having to come off to fuel up at a Community Connector!
“We are working really hard to connect Buffalo Mountain to Rockhouse,” Johnny said. “We have 90 percent of the land agreements signed. We just don’t have a date right now. We would like to have it done this year…..We know we will get Pocahontas open this year, and possibly Ivy Branch and the connector between Buffalo Creek and Rockhouse,” Johnny explained. “Those things could happen. There is a decent chance.”
Johnny noted that how quickly these things could materialize depended on things like legal agreements, weather and how quickly the field crew could prepare for such projects.
Memorial Day Weekend promises to be a big weekend in HMT country. You see, in addition to the Pocahontas trail system being up and running, it will also be when the eagerly anticipated drama, “The Hatfields and McCoys” will premier on the history channel, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.
Stay tuned for more announcements regarding a possible new system for ANOTHER historical West Virginia coal town and projects in Lincoln, Wayne and MacDowell Counties.