Between 2007 & 2008, familiarization (FAM) tours were taken by each of the seven participating counties to become more familiar with the proposed route through their county. Below is a review of what was seen on the tour through Buchanan County.
Leaving Richlands, VA in Tazewell County, the trail runs of 8 miles along Rt. 67 to the top of the mountain where it bears left toward Whitewood. There it follows Route 635 approx. 8.6 miles to the Whitewood area. The trail passes mining operations, railroad trestles and the location of the future Buchanan County Tourist Train. A hike along the railroad tracks here will take you across a small railroad bridge to your left and past abandoned mine areas
At the intersection of Route 635 & 638, the trail turns left onto Route 638 toward the tiny mining community of Whitewood. The trail continues 2.4 miles where it makes a right turn on Route 628 (Loggy Bottom Road). The trail continues 3.6 miles on Route 628 passing reclaimed strip mine sites along the valley below. At the intersection of Route 628 and 639 the trail makes a left onto Route 639 along the scenic ridge of Compton Mountain. Route 639 passes the Mountain Top Gold Course driveway on the right. This short driveway leads to a golf course located on reclaimed strip mine. It is worth the time to stop and see how the people of Buchanan County utilized reclaimed strip mine sites.
At the next intersection, a left onto Route 83 (Slate Creek) will take you 1.5 miles to an intersection with Route 640 (Hale Creek). Turn left here across a small concrete bridge and continue a few yards to an intersection with Route 641 (Patterson). Take a slight right and continue 5.1 miles along this road. You will pass many reclaimed mine sites. At the intersection with Rt. 638 (Dismal) the trail turns right. Just .2 miles ahead on the left is a huge coal stockpile where coal is stored for future use. The trail then continues on Route 638 (Dismal) 3.1 miles to Virginia Pocahontas Island Creek Mine #1. This mine is no longer in production and offers views of the above ground layout of a large underground mine. Within .6 miles the trail enters the Jewell Caol & Coke (Jewell Smokeless) Coal Plant area. The beltway over the road carries coal. The loading dock is to the left and the Coke Ovens are below the road.
Route 638 will then lead to an intersection with Route 460. There take a right onto Route 460 (4-lane highway). This road continues 3.4 miles following the railroad and passing many of the coke plant offices and coal cars loaded with coke. At the traffic light at Vansant, VA you will see VA Pocahontas Mine #3 to your left. There are areas to pull-off along this stretch of highway.
The trail then continues on Route 460 toward the town of Grundy. Within .3 of a mile you will pass the Grundy Mural on the outer wall of a local supermarket. This mural depicts the history of Buchanan County and the town of Grundy.
Another 1.2 miles on Route 460 and the Grundy Plaza is on the left. The Plaza was once the site of the Edith Fay Coal Dock. Slate can still be seen behind the Plaza. This part of the trail is now officially the town of Grundy. Continue 2.2 miles on Route 460 for a view of the cut-a-way engineered by the Army Corps of Engineers. This was the result of the need to move the town from a flood plain. The area to your left was mined before being landscaped for the town.
In front of the courthouse is a bronze statue honoring local miners. The statue was donated by local Girl Scout Troops.
At the intersection past the coal miner statue, the trail turns right onto Route 83 (Slate Creek). Follow Route 83, 4.2 miles to an intersection with Route 642 (Elkins Branch). This will take you over a mountain that has been mined and reclaimed. After 4.6 miles you will reach an intersection. Take a left toward the small town of Roseanne on Route 651. The trail runs only .7 of mile to another intersection where it takes a left onto Route 650 toward Homecreek. Follow Route 650 until it runs into Route 700. The road will go through the United Coal Company tipple.
The trail then crosses the railroad tracks and a concrete bridge onto Route 460 at Big Rock, VA. At the end of the concrete bridge, take a left onto Route 460. You will travel 4.3 miles along the Levisa River before reaching Weller Yard the train yard for coal leaving Buchanan County.
The trail follows Route 460 to Harman Junction then turns right onto Route 609 toward the Breaks Interstate Park. You will pass an abandoned coal loading station and an active mine on this road. The route continues 3.4 miles before reaching the old Harman Mine site. The Harman Mine sign and company store are the only remnants of the mine. The property now belongs to the Harman Baptist Church.
Continuing 5.7 miles and passing several operating mines will bring you to the Breaks Village. At the intersection turn left onto Route 768. In .3 of a mile turn left to the Breaks Interstate Park which is .8 of a mile on the right.
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