One Tank Trip: Crossroads: Change in Rural America exhibit comes to Mt. Hope

MT. HOPE WV (WOAY) – The landscape of America has changed vastly over the last century.

The percentage of rural communities has dropped from 60% down to 17% since 1900. This is what Crossroads: Change in Rural America is looking at, along with the many intricate details that have shaped such a nationwide shift.

It’s also the place we are visiting on this week’s One Tank Trip, a Smithsonian exhibit right in the heart of Mt. Hope.

“We have been working on, collectively, the Mt. Hope Revitalization Coalition and Harmony for Hope to showcase civil design in Sothern West Virginia itself,” says Executive Director of Harmony for Hope, Carrie Kidd.

Harmony for Hope and the coalition’s efforts to bring Mt. Hope’s history to life have paid off.

The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street project, in cooperation with West Virginia Humanities Council, took notice of their efforts and has chosen to feature the exhibition in the town.

It’s one of six different communities around the state to now be able to make a temporary home for the exhibit. The Historic Cottle Mountainair Hotel was selected as the host venue for it, as it’s one of the many spots in the town where much of its history still resides.

Along with unique civil impacts surrounding the evolution of the town, such as the changing race and class dynamics, coal was another vital impact shaping practically everything else.

“We are really the only standing community that’s left from the coal era, not that there are not communities like Welch that are important to the coal history, but to the coal story itself of Southern West Virginia coal, the New River Coal Company was housed here in Mt. Hope and most of the buildings are still standing,” Kidd says.

Harmony for Hope, along with efforts from other groups around the community, have been working on collecting Mt. Hope’s oral history for nearly 4 years.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the town is planning to hold six weeks of events that celebrate its history. The events will include new signage being placed along Mt. Hope’s historic walking trail, fireside chats, guest speakers from across the region, and a special screening of the film Matewan.

All of the events will go on until May 30, ending with Mt. Hope’s Memorial Day Parade.

You can find a full schedule of the events on the Harmony for Hope’s Facebook page.

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