New signs showcase Raleigh County’s coal heritage

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — New interpretive signs were revealed all over Raleigh County on Friday, October 22, 2021, showcasing the region’s history and coal heritage.

City officials and members of the Coal Heritage Foundation held a grand reveal celebration at the Art Park on Third Avenue in Beckley on Friday for the new signs. The signs were part of a Coal Heritage Grant filed by the City of Beckley.

“It’s been almost 20 years since the city acquired the trail and turned it into a rail-trail and so there’s probably a lot of people that don’t realize the railroad was here and it helped develop the whole community,” Director of Beckley Events Jill Moorefield said.

The signs span from Mabscott to the Art Park, Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, the former location of the Skelton Mine, and Kanawha Street in Beckley. There are seven signs in all.

Moorefield said they provide an opportunity for school-aged children to learn more about the region’s history.

“This will be great for school kids to come and learn about the history, they have a lot of photos on the signs, they can see what it used to look like,” Moorefield said. “It’s great for heritage tourism, a lot of people are into that and into railroads, coal history so they can come by and check that out.”

The National Coal Heritage Area Authority works to preserve coal heritage across the Mountain State. Executive Director Christy Bailey said signs, like the new ones in Beckley, can be found in most of the coal communities across Southern West Virginia. She said heritage tourism is a fast-growing segment of tourism around the nation.

“So, we really like to attract them because they really like to learn the history, that’s why they come,” Bailey said.

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