New River Gorge

A Visit to the Abandoned Nuttallburg Historic Coal Mine Town

Abandoned homes or towns are my favorite places to visit. So when my husband offered to drive Christopher and I to a historic abandoned coal mining town near where he was working I got super excited!!We spent one early morning exploring the New River Gorge Valley and the lost town of Nuttallburg WV. For a more indepth history of the town and its famous Henry Ford owner you can check out the Parks Services Webpage for Nuttallburg,WV here!

We found out about the town while stopping at the New River Gorge Visitors Center and decided it was worth the 8 mile drive to see the abandoned coal tipple and Coke ovens. I have written about the New River Gorge before so if you want to lean more about the National River Check out my other blog posts. They will included info about the world famous Bridge Day Events .

After leaving the New River Gorge Visitor Center near Fayetteville, we took time to follow a map to a community called Wynonia where you leave the pavement and drive into a tree covered lane. The road is very narrow and twistly so the 8 miles seem like 10 before you reach the river’s edge and the mining town of Nuttallburg.

Nuttallburg is a coal mining town that was listed on the National Historic Registry in 1998. It was important due to its production of smokeless coal. The town was founded by John Nuttall in 1870, at its peak had over 100 houses, several schools, churches and 80 Coke Ovens. The coal was processed and shipped out on the rail lines along the New River. The community and the mine were purchased by Henry Ford and the Fordson Motor Company in the 1920’s, serving his car manufacturing plants in Michigan.

The Nuttallburg post office was closed in 1958 and a cap was put on the opening of the mine that same year. The town then slowly decayed with much of the wooden structures destroyed by weather and scavengers who used the remaining good materials for better projects.

Coal Shoot area of the Coal Tipple of Nuttallburg WV.
Under the Coal shoot looking up at the steep conveyor belt at Nuttallburg Wv
Coal Conveyor Belt disappears into the weeds at Nuttallburg Wv

The remains of the coal mining town include a row of Coke Ovens that once processed thousands of pounds of coal for the steel mills that lined the Ohio River Valley. The coal tipple, coal shoot, the conveyor belt cover and the mine head all remain on view to visitors. I was impressed that the ovens were still standing since they are not metal structures. In this case they are just simple brick and mortar domes with a draft whole in the top. To learn more about how important Coke is in steel production click here

Opening to several Coke Ovens appear in a row these are slowly sinking into the mud around them at Nuttallburg WV

Included in the collection of the building foundations is what is left of a company store and house foundations. The idea that over a hundred families depended on this simpel store made me think how lucky we are to be able to buy almost anything from around the world at our local grocery store.

Christopher and I in the front window of the company Store.
Tree growing inside the Nuttallburg company store
Images from company stores near Nuttallburg WV.

At this time of the year most of the house and church foundations are covered with Kudzu vines, for better or worse. The vines make the place feel totally isolated and part of the a tropical rainforest. I told Christopher that I felt like we had stumbled into a Jurassic Park movie. With all the strange abandoned structures,trees and the wild undergrowth you felt like the last people on earth. Maybe this was the perfect place to visit during the Coronavirus. We did not see another person until we were ready to leave.

Kudzu vines clime over the foundation of a house in Nuttallburg WV
A forest of Kudzu covering everything in sight.
A butterfly among the weeds

Beyond the end of the town is an even smaller community of Seldom Seen. It has a nice trail to it but is a little risky to get to and the forest service posts warnings about not getting off the trail due to holes in the ground that are part of buried foundations. I could not convince my husband that would be a fun adventure to follow the trail and take photos so that is planned for a later date. From what I gather this area was the residential area for White coal miners. The town was segregated and the African Americans who worked in and near the mine lived at the entry of the town with their own school and church.

Sign that is posted to inform visitors about what is at Seldom Seen WV
Hidden in the photos is the remains of a walking swing bridge. That linked the African AmeriCan Community to other housing and people who lived across the river,.
sign showing development on river and what the KudZu covered up.
Train Tracks near the swinging bridge remains in Nuttallburg WV

At this point it was time to head back home but after this wonderful visit I plan to return this fall to see everything decked out in the fall colors and the Kudzu dead to take more photos.

The drive in and out of the valley was just a beautiful as the town and we enjoyed the coolness of the trees and waterfalls.

We hope that if you are in the Fayetteville area of West Virginia or near the New River Gorge Bridge you will consider taking the time to see this beautiful park and learn more about West Virginia and its history.

Categories: Abandoned structure, antique, Appalachian Mountains, Coal Mine, historic locations, Historic Preservation, New River Gorge, West Virginia History | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Bridge Day, New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia 2012-13

  My family traveled to Bridge Day for the frist time last year and I have been wanting to go back all summer.The weekend of Oct. 19 we are all headed back to Fayette County West Virginia for the biggest festival in our state. The things that are so appealing about this festival are the time of year, the low-cost, the experience of being able to walk on the second largest arch bridges in the world and cheering on BASE jumpers who for one day every year have legal rights to jump off the bridge and hope to land safely in the gorge below.

two BASE Jumpers floating in the air at BridgeDay, Fayetteville,WV

two BASE Jumpers floating in the air at Bridge Day, Fayetteville,WV

My family travelled to Fayetteville, West Virginia for the festival and my 43 birthday. The trip took us about 2 hours from my home in the central part of the state. This  is the most beautiful time to travel in West Virginia, as mid Oct is the height of the leaf color. The views along the interstate 79 south and Highway 19 were breath-taking. I made Tom stop the car several times to take photos along the way back.

Fall folage on hwy 19 in Fayette county West Virginia ...Tom holding Christopher

Fall foliage on hwy 19 in Fayette county West Virginia …Tom holding Christopher

When you arrive to the Bridge there are several places that the park uses for parking the cars of the 80,000… spectators they had in 2012. Most are campgrounds or churches. From these make shift parking lots the park service employees load you on school buses and takes you out to the end of the bridge for a reasonable fare of $2 dollars a rider, kids under 6 are free. This 2$ fee is the only fee charged the whole time you are at the festival unless you choose to buy something. 

As you step off the bus the amount of people who are walking the bridge is then visible. Personally have never seen this many people at one place at one time before. I was over whelmed but never really felt closed-in unless you were at the back of the launch stand where the BASE jumpers were diving off the bridge.

crowds at the entrance of the Bridge Day

crowds at the entrance of the Bridge Day

Once we passed under the “Red Bull” arch the crowds thinned out and walking in groups was very easy. Then you start out over the gorge and my heart pounded and I was so excited to finally get the chance to look down over the edge of my favorite bridge.OK, I do have a real soft spot for bridges and this one is my favorite by far. 

This is the view from the top of the bridge to show you what we were seeing. Christopher’s head is in this photo as he LOVED watching the jumpers canapes open with the beautiful colors drifting down. The photo below shows two jumpers almost ready to land.

Veiw from the New River Gorge Bridge to the river below on Bridge Day 2012

View from the New River Gorge Bridge to the river below on Bridge Day 2012

unknown photographer taken from the Bridge day wedsite

unknown photographer taken from the Bridge day website

 The BASE jumping begins at about 11am and we had arrived about 10am so the kids and I  began to explore the venders at each end of the bridge. They have no services on the bridge itself so if you want food or a restroom you end up walking the length of the bridge ( .57 mile long) to get a hot polish sausage or lemonade. Then we headed back on the main body of the bridge to see the jumpers… This was my view most of the remainder of the day.

Bridge Day sectators on the New River Gorge Bridge ...

Bridge Day spectators on the New River Gorge Bridge …

 The 400 BASE Jumpers wrap up their day around 3pm and we watched the very last jumpers go over the bridges edge in a set of three jumpers. It was a beautiful to see and insightful to see who and why people jump. Some of the jumpers are doing the jump in memory of lost loved ones. Some do it for pay…..”RED BULL” …extreme sports team is always their with music and head cameras going as jumpers film them selves flinging off the edge in a human catapult. Others are trying to have a great life and just enjoy the thrill of it. The oldest jumper last year was a man in his 80’s who just charmed the crowd with his presence. The link below is of the Human Catapult at the 2012 Bridge day event the frist time the festival used it.

Below is a photo of the rig used to let the jumpers leap from the bridge.

Base jumpers getting ready to leap of New River Gorge Bridge. Bridge Day 2012

Base jumpers getting ready to leap of New River Gorge Bridge. Bridge Day 2012

 Their at also other activities going on before during and after the main event of Base jumping so it is wise to plan ahead and use the official “Bridge Day” website to get more information on times and hotel information if you want to make it a weekend event. 

http://www.officialbridgeday.com/ 

and for other activities that happen at and around the New River or the Bridge contact adventure travel.Thier web site includes information about white water rafting and rappelling from the bridge.

http://www.adventurewestvirginia.com.

 As our day slowly came to a close I wanted to take a few photos on the bridge with my family as a nice reminder of one of  the best birthdays I have ever had. I was able to get some great family photos that day as it the weather was a cool 53 degrees and over cast. I loved it because everyone looks better with rosy cheeks.

My family at Bridge Day 2012. Tom, Cody, Christopher and Jolynn Powers oct 2012

My family at Bridge Day 2012. Tom, Cody, Christopher and Jolynn Powers Oct 2012

and I got a wonderful photo of my grand-daughter and sons wife that day too!

young family at Bridge day 2012 Cody, Jamie and Paige Powers

young family at Bridge day 2012 Cody, Jamie and Paige Powers

We then walked back across the Bridge the other 3,030 feet (.57 of mileage) to the bus pick up location. We had eaten wonderful hot food and kettle corn, gotten free bead necklaces, herd rock music and talked to people from all over the country and Europe. This is the most widely watched extreme sport in the united states and is the best tank of gas and 2$ I have ever spent. It is well worth the trip to see and share in all the fun and was a great way to celebrate me just getting another year older.

As a side note, none of the jumpers were injured or killed at this years festival but as a warning to anyone who wants to attend. People have been seriously injured or killed at this event and many of the jumpers land in the ice-cold water bellow. So remember that it is possible that you may witness some thing that goes wrong and have to leave the area so that emergency personnel can have access to the bridge or surrounding areas. 

Again  it is a wonderful event and at the perfect time of year so enjoy the 2013 Bridge Day  on Saturday Oct 19 and watch some thing amazing.

New River Gorge Bridge with fall folage 2000 by jolynn powers

New River Gorge Bridge with fall foliage 2000 by jolynn powers

Categories: Bridge Day, New River Gorge, State Park activities, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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