RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – The Rural Appalachian Improvement League, otherwise known as RAIL, is a nonprofit located in Mullens, and they were gifted a six-acre piece of property known as the Stonecoal Junction site from the Raleigh County Commission.
They plan to use the property to create a community park and kayak launch and hosted a work day on Friday to continue clearing the land.
“We want this to be a a part of the community,” RAIL President Dewey Houck said.
The property is located between Rhodell and Amigo near the county lines of Wyoming and Raleigh on Route 16.
The kayak launch they plan to install will also be the beginning of kayak put-in sites along the Guyandotte River Water Trail.
RAIL has enlisted the help of other organizations like the National Coal Heritage Highway and the WVU Fulcrum Project, a new initiative bringing in students from the landscape architecture program to help with the design and planning stages.
Ryan Blair is a graduate research assistant with the program and attended the work day to see the property.
“What we hope to provide is graphics and documentations to help these communities eventually potentially apply for funding for some of these projects,” Blair said. “Of course we can’t provide the funding and we can’t provide official technical documents so what we’ll be able to provide is big ideas for the site.”
Students, like senior Alexis Yost, will continue to visit the site throughout the semester.
“This is the point where we’re actually able to come to sites and see our sites potentially come to fruition, and also as a native of Southern West Virginia, with a lot of family ties in coal history this project specifically has so much potential for eco-tourism,” she said.
With the help of volunteers and programs, RAIL will be able to turn this once deserted property that used to be a hub for coal community activities into something the entire community can use once again.
“The resources are there. What it takes to maintain these parks and build these parks is a central location that can pull these resources together and make good stuff happen,” Houck said.
If you would like to get involved in this project or some of their others, you can head over to RAIL’s website by clicking here.