Virginia Coal Heritage Trail Corridor Management Plan Meeting
St. Paul - September 23, 2010 at 9:00 am

In Attendance:
  • Dedra S. Helbert, Dickenson-Russell Coal
  • Dawn Jessee, Oxbow Center Tourism
  • Sarah Love McReynolds, Coal Heritage Trail Advisory Committee & Spearhead Trails
  • Sharon Steele, Deputy Mayor of St. Paul
  • Kyle Fletcher, Mayor of St. Paul
  • Loretta Mays, Coeburn Town Manager
  • Linda Tate, Russell County Chamber & Chairman of Coal Heritage Trail Advisory Committee
  • Samantha Landingham, Heart of the Appalachia
Below is the section of the Byway discussed in the Wise/Russell County meeting.
Primary coal sites are noted on the map.
St. Paul:
  • Hillman House, the oldest building in St. Paul, is being renovated to become a welcome center for St. Paul and to provide information on the history of the area and the Heart of the Appalachia Bike Trail
  • Rich railroad history. Railroad museum being developed in the Railroad. Superintendent's home located next to the railroad track. Railroad collection available. Note: Parking, signage and hours of operation need to be addressed.
  • The Ice House (over 100 years old) is being renovated and will soon provide information on trails and other activities and offerings in the area. May also be the location to rent canoes, kayaks, and find out more about the many trail initiatives in the area.
  • In 1998, with the help of the Nature Conservancy, a group of local residents established "St. Paul Tomorrow." The group's purpose is to create a vision of the future for the town, both environmentally and economically, and lay out a clear plan on how to get there.
Recommend a St. Paul Historic Walking Tour to start either at Town Hall or at the Oxbow Center where there is ample parking, handicapped accessibility and restroom facilities.

Suggest sign location on the corner of Hwy 58A just east of St. Paul which says "Where the Coalfields meet the Bluegrass". There are 3 acres and the potential to add a tourism kiosk.

Oxbow has plans for providing tourist information for Southwest Virginia in their facility.
  • Ample parking available for cars and buses.
  • Large lobby for potential tourism displays and information
  • Easily accessible restroom facilities
  • Handicapped accessible facility
  • Very visible location with signage visible and easy access form Hwy 58A
It was suggested to include a side trip to Castlewood, Copper Ridge, Cemetery and Powell Valley
  • Castlewood includes a church, lodging house, bank and post office.
  • History of Canty Boy
Please note that the road is tight and would not be recommended for tour buses. It is also very limited what one could learn from stopping here without providing interpretive information.
Recommendation would be to provide a display on Castlewood at the Hillman House.
Turning right off Hwy 58 onto Mew Road.
  • Coal Heritage Trail signage is needed prior to the light letting travelers know they need to prepare to turn right.

There is an excellent location in front of the old Union Hall for interpretive information about this building and activities at the time it was used, this historical significance of the log building behind it as well as information on the Red Brick Church est. 1892 and interpretive information and map of the coal heritage trail and sites one will see along the St. Paul Loop. (Steve Banner owns the property and should be contacted to determine his interest in this.)

The current location of the Moore's Fort Historical marker needs to be moved in front of the "Union Hall" building. It is currently located at the edge of a trailer park.
  • A mile down the road on the left is the old grocery store, which has now been converted into a private home.
  • Community surrounded by train tracks
  • Tipple visible from road
  • Old tipple still exists
  • A stop on the Crooked Road Music Trail
  • Tacoma school has been converted into a community center. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Recommendation: Need interpretative sign. Contact: Robbie Robbins to find out more about Tacoma's rich history.
Coeburn/Toms Creek
  • Recommendation
    Coeburn & Toms Creek should be included on the Coal Heritage Trail as part of the trail system and not just side trips. They will both be added to the master map of the route.
NW Caboose
Coeburn Depot converted into offices/meeting space
Historic Lay's Hardware. Music every weekend
Numerous bridges add beauty to the downtown
Number of historic buildings along Main Street
Old Dominion Power Co.
Guest River Gorge
Guest River Gorge for hiking, biking, and nature walk just a few miles outside of Coeburn.
Toms Creek
Toms Creek (2 miles north of Coeburn) was considered the cultural center for many coal camps throughout the seven county region.
  • It had one of the largest, most modern company stores, built in 1911, which included a butcher shop, a dry goods store, groceries, and a furniture department.
  • The store also offered delivery service first by horse and wagon, later by truck.
  • The camp had a hospital, theater, post office, machine shop, electric shops, supply house, a large boarding house and a large stable plus hundreds of homes.
Toms Creek - had the longest row of coke ovens anywhere in the world. Rule was "no smoke on Sundays so the women could do their wash.

Below is how Toms Creek looks today plus a description of what it once was.

The depot and one other brick buildings is about all that remains of Toms Creek Mining Camp overshadowed today by a very active coal operation. (For more on Toms Creek, see Edison S. Perry in Chapter XX-Oral History.

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