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ATV trail a bright spot for struggling coalfields

Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo  Muddy ATV’s crowd the parking lot at Buffalo Trails on Lorton Lick Road Saturday.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo
Muddy ATV’s crowd the parking lot at Buffalo Trails on Lorton Lick Road Saturday.

BRAMWELL, W.Va. — In 1884, when the Cooper family opened the Mill Creek Mine in Coopers, commercial development of the region got underway in a hurry. The mine in neighboring Pocahontas, Va., had already been shipping high-grade metallurgical coal since March 13, 1883, but the start-up capital investment soon paid huge dividends.

Even back in the 19th Century, the coal industry was cyclical, but the high heights tended to negate the low lows and both communities prospered. The Mill Creek Company Store was in operation until the 1950s, but other Bramwell area mines including the Caswell Creek Coal & Coke Co., Mine and Booth-Bowen Coal & Coke Co., Mine, both in Freeman opened in 1884 and ‘85, and closed in 1937 and ‘38 respectively.

The Pocahontas Mine closed in the mid-1950s, and the region has faced challenging times ever since. Then the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail opened in May of 2012, and the area started to experience change.

“The trail has brought new life into Bramwell,” Mayor Louise Stoker said. “The economy is on an up-turn and during the past two and one-half years, we have only seen good things happening.”

Stoker said that the trail riders have started taking an active role in the activities taking place in the community including concerts, plays and festivals.

“They love it,” she said. “They want to know when the next event is going to take place. Some trail riders even coordinate their visits when they know we have something going on.”

Stoker said that riders have ridden the Hatfield-McCoy Trails and visited Bramwell from every U.S. state but Hawaii…

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