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Officials plan network of hiking, water trails in southern West Virginia connected through Mercer, Summers


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

The old timber railroad line which runs through part of Mercer County could become part of a new hiking trail system. In this photograph shot in 1915, Erastus ‘Rass’ Meadows, the great-grandfather of County Clerk Verlin Moye poses with his wife Lottie Lilly Meadows, his eldest daughter — and Moye’s grandmother — Corda Meadows, and youngest daughter Edna. Moye said this photo was taken about two miles from the foot of the cable car line at Pipestem State Park.
(Submitted photo)

PRINCETON, W.Va.  An almost forgotten railroad could become a big part of a new trail for hikers, bicycle enthusiasts and horseback riders that are interested in exploring the mountains and forests of Mercer and Summers counties.

Mercer County Commissioner Bill Archer said that both Mercer County and neighboring Summers County are working on plans to develop hiking trails and water trails. The hope is that an old railroad right of way going through part of Mercer County will form a connection with trails in Summers County and beyond. This former railroad line was mostly forgotten until its existence became part of negotiations in the 1990s, Archer recalled.

“Back in early 1990 when the commission was working with the Department of Highways to locate District 10 headquarters where it is at Exit 14, a question arose,” Archer said. “There was going to be a three-way swap between the federal government, the highway department and the (county) commission.”

The Mercer County Commission received the property which became the location of the Mercer County Courthouse Annex. The state forestry department got a 23-acre site along Gardner Road which was later converted into a wetland. The state Department of Highways received the property near Exit 14 off Interstate 77; it became the site of District 10’s headquarters.

While these negotiations were underway, it was discovered that the descendants of the Bluestone Lumber Company, which operated near Exit 14, had the title to a 32-foot-wide narrow-gauge railroad line that ran all the way to Flat Top, Archer said. The county now owns the right of way.

Contact Greg Jordan at [email protected]

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