West Virginia Connection
Student: Paul Smoes
Abstract Mine, Nature, Town While much of the United States is moving at an extreme pace West Virginia lies in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains and appears to be stagnant. That is only to those who have never been there. The Appalachian Mountains have an enormous effect on the economic status of the state. The mountains make it almost impossible to have a normal town let along a thriving metropolis. The mountains present a problem that the people of West Virginia have learned to live with on a day-to-day basis. West Virginia is currently and has always been one of the leading coal producers in the United States. The state has mines that range from large to small, from surface to underground, and from abandoned to active. Whether they are still in production or not, the mines add to the rich history of the state. Because of the way a mine works there are towns that crop up and disappear with the blink of an eye. These towns rely purely on the existence and prosperity of the mine. If the mine dies the town generally dies with it. However, in Nicholas and Fayette County West Virginia some of the historic mine towns still manage to survive even though the mines have since closed down.
The towns rely heavily on the natural resources that are so prevalent in the region. The Appalachian Mountains provide the towns with active rivers, large lakes, diverse wildlife, and much more. The nature of the area is currently becoming one of the major attractions for tourism in this region. Fayette and Nicholas County are seeing a shift from the heavy reliance of the mining industry to a reliance on the tourism industry. Tourism fully relies on the nature, which allows for world-class white water rafting in the Gauley River and New River, hiking trails for both novice and advanced, rock climbing, mountain biking and many more activities. Proposal The goal of this thesis is to educate not only the people of West Virginia and visitors but also draw more tourism into the area using three characters the region has to offer; the mine, the town, and the nature. The thesis will explain the way in which all three are different from each other and also show how they are tightly intertwined with each other. Creating a connection through existing roadways, existing trails, and proposed trails, with architectural interventions at the stops along the connection.