PAWV recently had a delightful day spent touring sites along Rt. 19 and the Midland Trail in Fayetteville (Fayette County). The Midland Trail is a National Scenic Byway of 180-miles cutting through the midsection of West Virginia. There is so much to see in Fayetteville. Between the historical and natural sites, there is no way we could fit everything into one day. So for our trip, we visited with a few local folks working on preservation projects, and our tour guide, Adam Hodges of the New River Gorge Redevelopment Authority, picked some of the must-see historical, re-development spots for us to visit. The focus of these tours is to meet with local residents and discuss potential or current historic preservation projects.
On our first stop we met with a local deconstruction contractor. We discussed the possibilities of architectural salvage at demolition sites. The contractor explained that some of his work projects include historic building demolitions. Rather than let the historic building materials go to the landfill, the contractor often works to find homes for the really great stuff, like hardwood floors, glass, and window frames. With the growing demand of historic buildings materials all over the country, we created a Facebook group, SAVE (Salvage Architectural Vestiges Exchange) with the goal of opening a dialogue about exchanging, buying, selling, and donating historic building materials. This initiative is in its infancy, but we welcome all to join the group and post about building materials they have saved from the landfill. Also post if you’re willing to donate, sell, or looking for something for your own building project.
Hawk’s Nest Golf Course was a short stop on our trip, but it proved to be fruitful for informational purposes. We could only see the golf course from the side of the road because it is closed. As far as we know, there are no plans for re-using the golf course site as it’s difficult to develop the area because Hawk’s Nest Tunnel is under the golf course. The tunnel diverts water from the New River for hydroelectric power. It was built to generate power for Union Carbide’s Alloy plant. It is not only important for generating power, but it is also the location of a major disaster where workers developed silicosis on a large scale. Workers built the tunnel through silica, which is highly toxic when breathed. Hundreds of workers died as a result of working without masks – it is unknown how many workers actually died. While looking out over the golf course, we talked about what could be done with the site. Some saw it as a great spot for an archaeological field school. Others thought an ATV track would be appropriate. Maybe even another golf course could re-open. What do you think?
Moving along the Midland Trail, we came across a tie-dyed quonset known only as the Mystery Hole – very mysterious indeed! It is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and we unfortunately couldn’t tour it. I plan to return, and think it would make for a fun Excuse for an Excursion. We all thought it would be a unique addition to the National Register of Historic Places too. Have you ever been there? Is it as mysterious as they say?
It was not the last stop on our journey, but the Prince Depot was one of the more notable spots. The Amtrak station still functions as a passenger rail stop a few days a week. From Prince, you can go to New York or Chicago three days a week. A one-way ticket to Chicago is $113, and the trip takes about 17 hours. The station’s streamline architecture dates back to the Art Deco era. I really loved seeing it as I have been hearing a lot about it! It is unique to West Virginia, and one of our Preserve WV AmeriCorps members is working on a National Register Nomination for the site. The hopes are to apply for grants specifically for listed properties with the goal of restoring the historic station.
We had a delightful time touring Fayetteville, and I can’t wait to return! I have a running list of all the things I want to do there, including a Jet Boat ride on the New River. This tour was part of a new historic preservation initiative and partnership between PAWV and the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. From April – August 2014, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is participating in the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority’s Bridges to the Past Historic Preservation Initiative. As part of the initiative, PAWV gives monthly presentations and its traveling exhibit, Preserving West Virginia: Saving Communities, will be displayed in five different locations in the New River Gorge Region. Currently it’s on view at the Fayette County Court House. The exhibit is unveiled in each location during a special presentation, and PAWV staff take a tour of the locale’s historic assets the following day. Each tour is arranged by New River Gorge Regional Development Authority staff. The initiative is made possible through grant funding from the National Coal Heritage Area.