It was a beautiful Monday morning in Dickenson County when the new Heartwood Marketing Director, Karen Doyle, Event Planner, Brooke Webb and Heartwood Staff members, Mike Venable and Matt Willey arrived at the Dickenson County Visitor’s Center/Chamber of Commerce in Clintwood. New comers to the county, only one in the group had actually been here before. Tourism Director, Rita Surratt welcomed them to Clintwood and Dickenson County. Joining Rita to help with the tour was the following tourism committee members: Haysi Mayor Larry Yates, Ron Kennedy and Jack Stanley. After a tour of the Phipps House, Dr. Phipps Family Museum showcasing hospital memorabilia from the old Dickenson County Hospital that once stood on the grounds, the group headed to the Phipps Family Memorial Garden located behind the Visitor’s Center.
A short walking tour of the town showcased our businesses in Clintwood. Looking in the window of the once popular John Branham’s White Star Restaurant, we were happy to see progress being made to reopen the restaurant.
The wall mural near the Jettie Baker Center told the story of Dickenson County and was beautifully done by Artist Ellen Elmes and students featuring citizens in Dickenson County.
Even though we didn’t go inside the Jettie Baker Center, it is displayed at Heartwood, so all the tour group had seen the inside of the renovated old theatre, which now features a state of the art facility.
One of our Artisan’s shops, Gift Baskets is one of the favorite shopping places for visitors as well as citizens in the county featuring a wide array of items.
After a short tour through the town of Clintwood, we headed to the Ralph Stanley Museum knowing we were on a tight schedule to try and soak up everything we could in only one day; we were limited on time at the museum. The Director, Tammy Hill, also a tourism committee member welcomed the group to the Ralph Stanley Museum. Everyone was impressed with the museum and the music. They all agreed it was one of the biggest assets in the county. They enjoyed the story of the life of Dr. Ralph Stanley and his brother Carter and their families.
After loading up in the rental van, we headed out of Clintwood to Virginia Scenic Rt. 611, the road to Birch Knob Tower. We stopped at Airplane Rock to view the monument tribute to three men who were killed in an airplane crash many years ago. We walked up to the Airplane Rock Lookout and the group loved the fantastic view.
Our next stop was the parking lot at Birch Knob and a short walk to the steps heading up to the tower. After climbing up 184 steps, we were all excited to make it to the platform- especially Matt. It is always so much fun to bring someone new up to Birch Knob Tower and to see their expression when they look out to view 5 states. This has to be one of the most fantastic views in the region and is well worth the hike to see it.
Heading onto Rt. 611, we stopped at Branham Farm to show the group the birding trail and talk a little about the farm. On down the road, we took the road off Rt. 611 to John Flannagan Dam. There we were able to view where the white water releases come from for the October Whitewater releases on Russell Fork River.
We drove to the Upper Twin Camp ground and then headed back to Rt. 611. We stopped at the SplashDam Bridge in Bartlick, the historic bridge where lumber was dammed up and sent into Kentucky. The bridge was built around 1915.
Our next stop was the Breaks Interstate Park where Jenny O’quinn, Marketing Director and tourism committee member met us for lunch. After a great lunch, we headed out in the park with Jenny giving us a great tour. The stateline overlook impressed the visitor’s as well as the park in whole.
We stopped by the new Splash in the Country Water park and checked out the new cabins near the lake. The peddle boats looked very inviting and if we had more time, we would all have been on the lake in those.
After leaving the Breaks Interstate Park, we went to the Town of Haysi for a short tour. We stopped at the Picnic Shelter across from the Town Hall, viewed the wonderful wall mural done by Shawn Wallace depicting the town of Haysi many years ago.
We then walked to the Veteran’s Walk of Fame Memorial Park to view all the names of the soldiers on display. This is a great tribute to the veterans and very well done.
After a drive through the town, viewing the Russell Fork River and showcasing the businesses in town, we headed on to the town of Clinchco.
We talked about the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail, the booming days in Clinchco and about the history of our miners in Dickenson County, explaining that the Coal Heritage Trail headed through McClure and into Trammel where the coal camp houses still exist. We stopped at the Coal Miners Memorial in Clinchco to view all the miners, men and women who were killed in the mines in Dickenson County.
Heading on back to Clintwood, we pointed out the old Railroad Depot Station, now PSA offices at Fremont. We were also excited to show the group that progress is being made on the Cranesnest Trail.
After a long day, we returned to Clintwood saying our goodbyes to the great team from Heartwood and asking for at least another day or two on the next trip here to complete the tour of Dickenson County.
We are very proud of our county and the beauty we have here and always happy to showcase it to visitors in the area. For more information on Dickenson County, please contact Rita Surratt, Tourism Director at (276)926-6074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rita Surratt | Dickenson County Tourism Director
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