BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Seven new educational and commemorative signs are being placed along the McManus Trail in Beckley. These interpretive signs are all about one of the city’s main roots–its coal heritage.
The city of Beckley held a brief ceremony at Art Park to introduce the new signs and to discuss their significance to the community.
“This used to be a branch of the railroad, and Beckley, Sprague, Skelton, and several little communities resulted from the railroad and businesses grew up around here, so we’re just really happy to be able to share the history,” says Director of Beckley Events, Jill Moorefield.
This history of the local areas the signs cover includes coal camps, towns, tipples, a former railroad station and railroad markers. They are located in places from Sprague to Mabscott along the trail.
With the help from a grant given by the National Coal Heritage Authority, these signs will attract those curious of the local history from near and far.
“We really hope to attract heritage tourists, that is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry, but also I think it’s great for local people to understand, particularly younger people who may not realize it was a railroad and that all of these little communities were coal camps,” Christy Bailey, Executive Director of the National Coal Heritage Authority, says.
The McManus Trail has been a part of the Beckley community for nearly 20 years, some people not knowing what the area even was before the rail trail, but the new signs help to preserve its history and educate new generations on what came before.
“We just think it’s really important to preserve our history and to share and remember how we got to where we are now,” says Moorefield. “There’s kids out there that probably don’t even realize it used to be a railroad!”
All of the signs are easily accessible from a parking lot. Some of them include the Beckley Station and #4 signs at Art Park on 3rd Avenue, and The Exhibition Coal Mine in Sprague.