Chapter 1 – Introduction and Vision
The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike is the historic highway from Virginia’s upper Shenandoah Valley to the Ohio River. Begun in 1838 and completed in 1845, the road was designed by master engineer Claudius Crozet. The road was prized by both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War as essential for the control of western Virginia, and the road was the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy”.
Today, much of the route follows modern highways. Other portions are still intact back roads, offering excellent opportunities for visitors to experience the turnpike much as it was 150 years ago. The Byway and its Backways pass through Pocahontas and Randolph Counties in the high Allegheny Mountains of the central Appalachians, crossing some of the most scenic, historic, and rugged terrain in West Virginia. It then continues westward through Upshur, Lewis, Gilmer, Richie, Wirt, and Wood counties, an area of varied topography and land uses.
Starting in 1994 from a collaborative effort of groups and individuals concerned with protecting and promoting the historic sites along the Turnpike, the informal Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance (SPTA), with assistance from many partners, has identified resources, sponsored events, and provided interpretation projects for parts of the Turnpike. The Alliance, with broad support throughout the counties, nominated the Turnpike through Pocahontas and Randolph County as a West Virginia Byway. In June, 1997, the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway was designated along US Rt. 250 from Top of Allegheny to Beverly, as well as designation of four back road sections of the original turnpike route as Camp Allegheny Backway, Back Road Backway, Cheat Summit Backway, and Rich Mountain Backway. In June 2000, the remainder of the route in West Virginia to Parkersburg was added to the Byway designation. Mostly following the older routes before four-lane construction, the Byway loops through Elkins to follow old Rt 33, reconnects from Rich Mountain backway, then continues through Upshur and Lewis counties. Crossing into Gilmer County, the road becomes WV 47 and continues with that designation through Richie, Wirt, and Wood counties.
The SPTA and additional partners have worked as a Byway Planning Group to develop this Corridor Management Plan (CMP). This CMP offers a blueprint to protect and enhance the many historic and scenic resources along the route; to present these resources to the public for recreational, cultural and educational enrichment; and to further develop tourism businesses and infrastructure for the region’s economic benefit. With properly planned development and promotion of the resources, the plan will increase low-impact heritage tourism that maintains the region’s quality of life while bringing increased economic development.
The CMP recommends investigating applying for National Scenic Byway status for the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. The CMP also recommends continuing work with regions in Virginia along the historic route, with goals of cooperative interpretation and promotion for the entire route.
This CMP is the result of several years’ work of research, public meetings, discussions and feedback, plus the practical experience of professional consultants as well as those working with Byway sites. It consists of three parts: the narrative discussion of issues to be addressed in the development of the Byway; the practical "plan" derived from the Byway goals and leading to the concrete action steps to bring those goals to fruition; and the detailed information provided in the appendices of the Byway assets. The plan will be flexible in order to be updated periodically as conditions and needs change. Most importantly, it is also a working document that will result in concrete action of benefit to the whole Byway region.
The CMP presents an exciting vision of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway as a vital dynamic contributor to community economic development and to the sustained high quality of life and respect for our resources that makes West Virginia so special.
1-1) Statement of Purpose and Vision
The Byway Nominating Group identified the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway statement of purpose and vision:
The historic Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike was highly significant in the settlement of western Virginia, and in the strategically important Civil War campaign that was waged for control of the pike. The purpose of the Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike Byway is to interpret and present the story of this roadway, of the countryside through which it passed, and of the people whose lives it affected. We seek to protect and enhance the historic, archaeological, cultural, scenic, natural, and recreational qualities and resources along this byway, and to encourage low-impact heritage tourism for the area. We envision a byway encompassing a variety of experiences, from scenic mountain back roads reminiscent of the original pike to modern highways serving prosperous communities that have grown up in these beautiful surroundings. The varied resources along the route will be linked by interpretation that relates the history of the route to its modern experience.
This vision can become real in a wide variety of ways.
It can mean attractive, well-interpreted historical
parks in pristine mountain settings, taking the visitor back to the experience
of the Civil War soldier over a century ago;
Or meeting such a soldier (in a live interpretation), in a living history encampment, or reenacting the critical battle;
Or contemplating the graveyard where an honored forebear came to rest.
It can mean a restored historic home taken back to its appearance of 150 years ago, with educational tours and interpretation of its illustrious former owners,
Or staying in an historic home yourself in a high-quality and friendly Inn or Bed and Breakfast where perhaps travelers along the turnpike also stayed in the past.
It can be a museum full of authentic artifacts;
An interpretive center with exciting thematic displays;
A video presentation on the story of the turnpike;
Or a computer interactive program where you follow your own interests in detail.
It can be peaceful drives along gently winding roads with spectacular overlooks,
Idyllic hikes or bike rides through pristine forests,
A train ride along a historic track through the mountains,
Or in a horse-drawn coach down the actual turnpike.
Dance to the strains of a mountain fiddler,
Learn to make your own traditional basket,
Hear the stories of homestead life in years gone by.
Join in the activities of a town festival,
Shop for unique antiques and quality crafts,
Enjoy elegant dining as well as simple home-cooked fare,
And most of all, be welcomed by friendly people who want to share their unique communities.
1-2) Goals of the Byway
The Byway Planning Group has formulated four Goals for the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway. We will use them to guide the development of the Byway as outlined in this Corridor Management Plan.
I. Identify and protect resources
Identify our intrinsic quality resources (historic, archaeological, cultural, natural, scenic, and outdoor recreational) and work to conserve, protect, and restore them.
II. Interpret and enhance resources
Provide interpretation and education about our intrinsic resources, and appropriately develop them for visitation in ways that value authenticity, quality, and respect for the resource and the community.
III. Promote appropriate tourism
Plan for and encourage tourists to visit the Byway and our communities so they will be attracted by the resources the Byway offers. Develop tourism services and businesses that will provide jobs and community economic development. Provide cooperative promotion and marketing of the Turnpike as a heritage tourism destination. Offer an authentic, quality, positive experience for visitors and the community.
IV. Involvement and stewardship.
Promote constituency and grassroots involvement that will encourage pride and stewardship. Utilize collaborative partnerships to work together effectively to bring the Turnpike vision alive.
Chapter 2 -- Description and Current Conditions
The modern US Route 250 from the Virginia / West Virginia border to Beverly generally follows the routing of the original Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, and is designated as the eastern section of the Byway. Because it is most accessible and visible to visitors, it demonstrates the long-term value of the original routing of the turnpike. The western section follows US 33 and WV 47 to Parkersburg.
The contemporary condition of the original turnpike route varies widely over its course. The best integrity is found on those sections that have been bypassed by modern highways yet remain in public use as secondary “county” gravel roads. All are under the jurisdiction of the West Virginia Division of Highways. The narrow gravel back road sections within Pocahontas County are from the Top of Allegheny to Bartow (Camp Allegheny Backway), a short section over Cheat Bridge (Cheat Summit Backway), and in Randolph County over Rich Mountain (part of Rich Mountain Backway). Other sections, such as Back Mountain Road west of Durbin (Back Mountain Backway), and west of Beverly to Rich Mountain and from Mabie to the Upshur County line, are blacktop but not major highways (Rich Mountain Backway). The western half has no designated Backways. In Ritchie County the original road followed the north bank of the river, but this segment has been partially abandoned and has only limited maintenance, making it nearly impassable.
Backways, especially those sections still unpaved, offer the best opportunity for interpretation of the original turnpike. These scenic, little developed roadways have excellent integrity to the early appearance of the turnpike and strong Civil War associations. They offer a unique experience for the tourist looking for something genuine and unusual.
In some places previous routings of the road can be seen either as small loops off of the modern road, or as alternative routes. Additional research will be needed to identify all of the variations of the roadway from the Turnpike era through today.
In some cases, the original route has been bypassed or abandoned altogether, most notably through Bartow and Durbin, from Cheat Summit Fort to Red Run, and the Oxbow Loop Road. Some of these sections have potential for hiking trails associated with the Byway.
2-1) Byway and Backway Descriptions
The 43-mile eastern section of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike designated as a West Virginia Scenic Byway follows U. S. Route 250 from the top of Allegheny Mountain in Pocahontas County, at the West Virginia/Virginia border, to Beverly in Randolph County. The associated Backways are sections of the original turnpike route that are different from the modern Route 250.
The Route 250 roadway is a two-lane paved highway. This portion of the road is a continuation of US 250 from Staunton, Virginia, the terminus of the original road. The “Top of Allegheny” constitutes the main eastern gateway in West Virginia.
The exact beginning of the Turnpike in West Virginia is actually located about ¼ mile east of the mountain peak, where a section of the old route diverges from the modern highway and is in West Virginia on the south side of the highway. Before it merges with the Backway, this short section consists of a narrow one-lane track that may be more suitable for a foot or bike trail than vehicles. The corner where this section diverges from Rt 250 provides a potential attractive location for a wayside or interpretive hub connecting the Virginia and West Virginia sections on the Turnpike.
Camp Allegheny Backway follows the access road from the state line at the top of Allegheny along the ridgetop south. Joining the original turnpike route in about 1/4 mile, it continues along the ridge to the Camp Allegheny site, bisecting that site, then winding down the mountain spur to Bartow. This 9-mile improved dirt roadway offers a backcountry experience reminiscent of the original turnpike, passing through remote woods and fields and with impressive scenic views of the surrounding countryside. It rejoins the Byway at Bartow, at the site of the Civil War Camp Bartow and the original turnpike inn of Traveller’s Repose, now a private home.
Route 92 from the north intersects US 250 just east of Bartow and provides a trailhead and connecting route to Spruce Knob and Seneca Rocks. Route 92 turns south at Bartow towards Green Bank, and is significant as the connecting route to many of the other related attractions in Pocahontas County such as the Green Bank Observatory and Cass Scenic Railroad.
Through the communities of Bartow, Frank, and Durbin, the Byway follows the highway route. The original turnpike routing diverges from the highway in a number of places where the original grade can be seen, wandering through fields at the base of the mountain past the Burner house, along a back road and railroad grade near the tannery site in Frank, and through the streets and yards of Durbin.
Back Mountain Backway crosses the Greenbrier River at the west end of Bartow, following the paved Back Mountain Road with a switchback up the mountain. This route was the original roadway paved in the 1920s, and served as Route 250 until the modern section was built more directly up the mountain in the 1950s.
The Byway winds up the eastern slope of Cheat Mountain, then across the nearly flat plateau at the top. Much of this land is undeveloped forestland that is part of the Monongahela National Forest.
Just east of the Shaver's Fork River, the old turnpike route, designated here as Cheat Summit Backway, diverges south and crosses the river on an old iron bridge at the site of the original Cheat Bridge. It continues up the mountainside with several intersections with other back roads, until it merges with the current access road to Cheat Summit Fort that leads more directly from the highway. The Backway then continues on an improved gravel road up the hill to the Cheat Summit Fort site. The roadway ends there, but the original turnpike route, now abandoned and impassable, continues about a mile further until it rejoins the Byway at Red Run. The Cheat Summit Fort to Red Run section is a potential hiking trail.
Winding down the west face of Cheat, with some short turnout sections of the older route still occasionally visible, the Byway continues alongside Riffle Run to the Tygart Valley River.
At Huttonsville, the Byway intersects with U.S. 219, which follows the route south of the Huttonsville - Huntersville Turnpike, a historic connecting turnpike with the Staunton-Parkersburg Pike. A number of closely related Civil War sites are located south along US 219, including Camp Elkwater, the John Augustine Washington monument, Mingo Flats, and Valley Mountain.
Continuing north on what is now a combined US Route 250/219, the Byway winds up the Tygart Valley to Beverly. The modern highway closely follows the original route. This heavily traveled section contains a mix of residential, commercial, and occasional industrial development along the roadside. Between the towns are mixed woods and open agricultural landscapes, with long-range views of the surrounding mountains. There are a number of historically significant homes along the route as it travels through the old settlements of Huttonsville and Beverly, the lumber-era boomtown of Mill Creek, and the New Deal Homestead communities of Dailey, East Dailey, and Valley Bend.
The Town of Beverly, the original county seat of Randolph County, contains the most remaining pre-Civil War buildings in one location along the Byway. Beverly is a major hub for the eastern section, with a Turnpike Visitor Interpretive Center located here.
At Beverly, the original turnpike turns west on Rich Mountain Road, which has been designated as Rich Mountain Backway. This road is blacktop through the valley, turning to improved gravel where it climbs up and over Rich Mountain, passing through the Rich Mountain Battlefield Civil War site to the community of Mabie. An alternative access to the Backway then turns north past Coalton and Norton, to US Route 33.
The designated Byway route follows the historic Beverly-Fairmont Pike route north of Beverly (now Country Club Road), until it merges back with Rt 250 south of Elkins. Soon joining US 33, the Byway follows the old US33 route through town (now in some places designated only as WV92) and rejoins the new four-lane Rt 33 west of Elkins for a few miles. The Byway designation then turns off the four-lane south and west along State Route 151 (the former Route 33) to Buckhannon. The Rich Mountain Backway route along the original turnpike joins the Byway on WV 151 near Pumkintown.
Crossing into Upshur County at Burnt Bridge, the Byway continues on the older route through downtown Buckhannon. The Byway stays on the old road that now serves as an access road for the four-lane US Rt 33 to Lorentz, near the Lewis County border. Here it merges with the four-lane to travel down Buckhannon mountain. The Byway again moves onto the older route at Horner, paralleling the four-lane, continuing until the road dead ends near I-79. Returning to US 33 the Byway continues through Weston to the Gilmer County line where it becomes WV 47. It retains this designation through Gilmer, Richie, Wirt, and Wood counties where it joins US 50 (originally the Northwestern Turnpike) in Parkersburg. Official Byway designation currently ends at this intersection, but the original S-P Turnpike continued along with the Northwestern Turnpike through downtown Parkersburg to the Ohio River.
The Corridor Boundaries of interest for the Byway extend beyond the roadway itself. Defining these boundaries in specifics is difficult however, both because of the variety of types of landscapes, and because of differing needs and benefits affecting the Corridor. The traditional definition of Corridor Boundaries is often considered to be the viewshed along the roadway -- but in the case of this Byway, the viewshed can vary from just a few feet either side of a densely wooded roadway, to many miles visible from a scenic overlook.
For the purposes of Byway regulations, signage, and controlling intrusions, the corridor is here defined as the property immediately adjacent to the Byway and Backways, and extending back as far as is obviously noticeable from a vehicle on the Byway.
For purposes of the visitor experience and of protecting, developing, and promoting the intrinsic quality resources, the corridor can be defined much more widely, encompassing the wide variety of related attractions and services that can be accessible from the Byway.
2-2) Cultural Landscapes
Cultural landscapes are the result of how natural and man-made factors influenced each other and produced the landscape we see today. Vernacular cultural landscapes are those that evolved over time through the interaction of people with their environment. There are three major types of cultural landscapes within the Byway area – the mostly wooded mountain ridges, narrow rural valleys with alternating small farms and woods, and the more densely settled broader river valleys where most of the towns and development are located. Each particular example of a cultural landscape constitutes a separate character area.
The long range of the Allegheny Mountains separates the eastern seaboard from the rest of the country. For early Virginia, the mountains also separated the mainstream settled sections of the state from the frontier. The historic landscape, shaped by the past with visible changes of more recent periods, tells the ongoing story of movement through and settlement among and beyond these mountains.
Thus the mountains are the primary determining features of this area. Long, high ridges running basically north to south define the topography of the region where the eastern section of the Byway is located. High mountain streams run between the ridges, eventually becoming major rivers.
Farther west are the hills of the Appalachian Plateau, characterized by gentle folding and moderate elevations. Rivers here have a more irregular pattern, with the tributaries subdividing like the limbs of a tree. Valleys tend to be narrower, yet the ridgetops can offer striking panoramas.
In looking at these cultural landscapes the key factor is access. The history of man’s adaptation to mountains is largely a story of transportation -- the difficulties of crossing, or moving into, the mountain areas and the isolation of the settlements due to the difficulties of traversing the mountains. The Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike can be used to tell much of the story of the region: early settlements creating the need for the road, the political and engineering difficulties in building the road, the Civil War campaign fought for control of the road, changes in economic patterns as transportation access improves, and the resource development boom coming only when more practical transportation, the railroads, finally reached into its territory.
Broad river valleys between the mountain ridges were the natural sites of early settlements. The upper Greenbrier Valley, the upper Tygarts River Valley, and to a lesser extent the Roaring Creek Valley were the predominant settlement areas along the eastern turnpike, while the Buckhannon River, Stone Coal Creek, Polk Creek, Leading Creek, Grassy Run, Hughes River, the Little Kanawha River, and the Ohio River were central to settlement in the western section. These cultural landscapes of relatively flat valley land bisected by a river, surrounded by steep wooded mountainsides, settled mostly by scattered farm families, were typical of those found throughout the highland region. The town of Beverly, as the county seat and major crossroads in the fertile Tygarts Valley, grew into a small market center. With improved transportation and the building of the turnpike, the density of farms increased, with the mountain ridge tops and high benches also being settled. But many of these valleys remained mostly farms, or had only small informal communities, through most of the 19th century.
It should be noted that there are numerous similar landscapes throughout these highlands counties that can be studied and interpreted as a part of this context of mountain settlement and adaptation. Indeed, many of the smaller valleys, with less accessible transportation, retain better early farming landscape integrity. There are also numerous late 19th century - early 20th century industrial sites that can be linked for study and interpretation. The heritage of this mountain region can and should be interpreted and presented for residents and tourists as an integrated whole, with minimal distraction from such artificial lines as state and county boundaries. The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike can provide an entry and focus for much of this interpretation, but should not become a limiting factor.
2-3) Jurisdictions and regulations
The eastern section of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway as originally designated, as well as its four associated Backways, are all within Randolph and Pocahontas Counties of West Virginia. The roadways themselves are under the jurisdiction of and maintained by the WV Division of Highways, District 8 with offices in Elkins. The central counties Upshur, Lewis, and Gilmer are in District 7 with an office in Weston, while the western counties Ritchie, Wirt, and Wood are in District 3 with an office in Parkersburg.
The rural properties, and those within unincorporated townships, are under the jurisdiction of the corresponding county governments, under authority of the County Commissions. Although some counties have county planning commissions, none have regulatory authority, and none have implemented zoning regulations for the rural areas.
The incorporated towns along the Byway are Durbin, Beverly, Mill Creek, Huttonsville, Coalton, Buckhannon, Weston, and Parkersburg. Some of them have rudimentary zoning in place within their town limits, mostly differentiating residential from commercial areas. Authority is vested in each Town Council and Mayor.
There are five Historic Landmarks Commissions currently active with jurisdiction on part of the Byway. Pocahontas County Historic Landmarks Commission applies to the whole of Pocahontas County including those sections of the Byway. Beverly Historic Landmarks Commission works with the Beverly Historic District. Both the Buckhannon Historic Landmarks Commission, and the Weston Historic Landmarks Commission apply to their respective towns. The Gilmer County Landmarks Commission applies to the entire county, as does the Wood County Landmarks Commission. As Certified Local Governments, the Landmark Commissions can apply for certain categories of preservation and education grants, and often undertake projects of historic surveys, national register nomination, planning, education and interpretation. Such a grant, for instance, has funded interpretive signs in Beverly. None of these Commissions currently have Design Review authority, though that could be a potential avenue for protection of resources if the corresponding parent governments approved. The remainder of Randolph County could potentially be covered by a Randolph County Historic Landmarks Commission, which does exist in county law, but has not been active. Activation of this Commission, and its subsequent qualification as a CLG, could open opportunities for significant project funding in the future.
Major sections of the land along the Byway, particularly in the Allegheny and Cheat Mountain areas, are Federal property of the Monongahela National Forest. The Forest Service priorities of protection and appropriate use of natural resources and of encouraging visitor access to its resources are completely in harmony with the purposes of the Byway. The U.S.D.A. Forest Service is a major cooperative partner in the Byway coalition. Several Wildlife Management Areas of the WV Division of Natural Resources are located very near the Byway.
Chapter 3 – Intrinsic Quality Resources
The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway was designated on the basis of all six of the intrinsic qualities recognized by the West Virginia Byway program. These intrinsic qualities – historic, archaeological, cultural, natural, scenic, and outdoor recreation – represent the resources that make the Byway special and significant. They also are the attraction – the authentic and special destinations that will make the Byway of interest to visitors. Identifying, protecting, and appropriately developing them for tourism are an essential task of the Byway. No amount of marketing or tourism services will please visitors and keep them coming back if the resources they want to see and experience are disappointing or poorly presented.
This chapter gives a general overview of the intrinsic quality resources available along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway and associated Backways. The first section contains a brief history of the Turnpike. The following sections summarize the intrinsic quality resources. More detailed description of the historic context is found in Appendix B, and listing of the intrinsic quality resources that have been identified to date are found in Appendix C. Further identification of these resources, especially in the areas of African American and Native American history, will be an ongoing task of the Byway organization.
3-1) Brief History of Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike
Gaps in the high Allegheny mountain ridges provided natural passages for travelers. Prehistoric Indians living here for thousands of years found and used the best pathways, as did the game animals they hunted. Continued use created well-worn foot trails, which were then used as horse trails by the European settlers. The earliest roads and 19th century turnpikes followed these same trails.
The early settlers built their homesteads in the river valleys such as the upper Greenbrier Valley, the Tygart River Valley, the Buckhannon River valley, the Hughes River valley, the Little Kanawha River Valley, and the Ohio River valley. The town of Beverly, was established in 1790 as county seat of the new Randolph County, and was a major crossroads and market town for the eastern section. Squatters arrived in Wood County in the 1760s with permanent settlers occupying what would become Parkersburg in 1785. Traveller’s Repose (later Bartow), Huttonsville, Buckhannon, and Weston, were also early communities, but many others were not established as towns until the late-19th century boom era.
The Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike was the historic roadway built to provide transportation access across these mountains from the upper Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the Ohio River. After decades of inaction on the part of the Virginia government in Richmond, the state finally acceded to demands from its western citizens and built this turnpike. The road was authorized in 1826, and planned and laid out by the state engineer of Virginia, Claudius Crozet. It was not built until the 1840’s, with completion of the main roadway in 1845, and work on bridges continuing at least until 1848. This road, traveling over the high mountains near the birthplace of rivers, was an engineering marvel, and opened up large sections of western Virginia to settlement and commerce.
A transportation route was now available for products which previously could not be taken to market. The turnpike became an important means of entry into the Shenandoah Valley from the Ohio Valley and the resultant transport of livestock and other agricultural commodities gave rise to numerous inns and taverns along the route. Products which could not be taken to market now had a transportation route. The most important north-south route in western Virginia, the Weston-Gauley Bridge Turnpike would make Weston an important hub and one of the reasons the Trans-Allegheny Asylum for the Insane was located in the town.
The Turnpike was one of several routes that gave rise to the expression “Sold down the River”. As slave breeding became an important industry in more eastern parts of Virginia the route was one of several used for transporting slaves to the developing Cotton South. Many African Americans can trace the forced migration of their ancestors along these routes. Resistance to slavery can also be found in the arson and suicide associated with Burnt House and with various activities of the Underground Railroad located in close proximity to the route, especially in Ritchie and Wood counties.
Controversy over the building of internal improvements in the west, including the Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike, fueled early threats to separate western Virginia. At the beginning of the Civil War, this major roadway across the Alleghenies became of strategic importance because of the access it provided to the B&O Railroad. Thus one of the earliest campaigns of the Civil War was fought for control of this turnpike. Winning the battle of Rich Mountain gave the Federals control of the turnpike, of the Tygart Valley, and of all of the territory of western Virginia to the north and west, and brought promotion to Union General George McClellan to command the Army of the Potomac. By seizing control of the turnpike for the North, General McClellan ensured Federal control of the trans-Allegheny region and the vital Baltimore & Ohio railroad that connected Maryland with Ohio. It also allowed formation of the Reorganized Government of Virginia, thus leading to the partition of Virginia and the formation of West Virginia in 1863.
The Federals then fortified Cheat Summit, and the Confederates established fortifications at Bartow and Allegheny. There they faced each other over the turnpike through the fall and winter of 1861. General Robert E. Lee’s attempt to attack Cheat Summit Fort, and Federal attempts to attack Camp Bartow and Camp Allegheny, all failed to dislodge the enemy. But the harsh winter in the mountains achieved what armies had failed to do, and in the spring of 1862 both armies moved eastward down the pike to the battle of McDowell, and on to fight what became Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign.
Union troops had first crossed the river into western Virginia at Parkersburg in 1861. Union sentiment tended to be stronger in the western counties. In 1863 the Union established Fort Boreman at the confluence of the Little Kanawha and Ohio rivers overlooking the town of Parkersburg to maintain control of the key transportation routes at the western end of the Turnpike. This same year the state of West Virginia was established – this action was only possible because of the Federal control of the region and its transportation routes including the S-P Turnpike. The Western section of the Turnpike was one of the major objectives of the Jones-Imboden raid of 1863. This was the most significant Confederate incursion into West Virginia and resulted in substantial losses, including extreme damage to the oil fields at Burning Springs.
Following the war, control and maintenance of the road was delegated to the counties, and damage to roads and bridges was slowly repaired. Tolls continued to be collected, at least in some areas, until the 1890s. Travel, mail, and stage routes resumed, bringing business to inns new growth and the settlement of numerous towns.
In the 1890 to 1900 period, the railroads, logging, and mining interests brought prosperity, population growth and the establishment of numerous towns. Elkins replaced Beverly as the population center in the Tygart Valley and as county seat of Randolph County. Durbin, Frank, Bartow, and Smithville were established as towns where there had previously been farming settlements.
The turnpike itself declined in importance, but issues surrounding the role of transportation into the mountains remained paramount. The “boom” period, through the 1920’s, established the oil and gas towns in the west, lumber towns in the east, as well as growth of mining activity. Communities grew, with shops, taverns, and hotels in numerous small towns, such as Durbin, Beverly, Buckhannon, and Weston. Elkins as a railroad center, and Parkersburg on the Ohio River, were key commercial and transportation hubs.
In the 1920s and 1930s, highways were paved to provide for automobiles. Modern road building straightened curves, filled lowlands, bridged streams, and cut through mountains, as in the Big Cut in Ritchie County, rather than following the contours around them. Nevertheless, the basic route in many cases remains the same. The route used for thousands of years still proves to be the most advantageous.
Twentieth-century developments such as changes in industry and commerce found their way into these counties and brought change to the historic communities. National events impacted the area such as the establishment of the Monongahela National Forest, and the New Deal homestead founded at Dailey and Valley Bend in response to the depression. More recent developments, both industrial and residential, are centered along the modern highway, which replaced the turnpike, often on the same route. In areas where the modern four-lane has taken a significantly different route (such as the western section where Rt 50 instead of 47 has been four-laned) the communities along the Byway route are largely bypassed by commercial development. For many communities isolation is a determining factor, and with the closing of many traditional industries, such as the Frank tannery in Pocahontas County, the Asphalt Mine in Ritchie County, the glass factories in Lewis County, and the oil and gas fields in Wood and Wirt counties high unemployment is a problem in remote areas.
The mountains which caused the original isolation of the area continue today to attract recreationists and those who value the area’s unique resources, coexisting with resource extraction, commerce, and the economic growth needed by the valley communities.
3-2) Overview of Resources
Historic and Archaeological
The primary historic sites on the Byway and Backways, especially those that are more established for visitation, are the Civil War sites. Rich Mountain Battlefield Civil War Site s the pivotal site of the Civil War First Campaign is recognized as nationally significant, with Cheat Summit Fort, Traveller’s Repose/Camp Bartow, Camp Allegheny, Fort Boreman Hill in Parkersburg, and the Beverly Historic District all also listed on the National Register of Historic Places with Civil War significance. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (aka Weston State Hospital), and Graceland & Halliehurst Mansions on the Davis & Elkins College Campus are National Historic Landmarks. The early 19th century See-Ward house in Mill Creek, the late 19th century Hutton House in Huttonsville, Ward House near Beverly, the H.G. Kump House, in Elkins are just a few of the individually listed homes along the Turnpike. Other Historic Districts include Tygart Valley Homesteads, Downtown Elkins, Downtown Weston, and Julia-Ann Square District in Parkersburg. Eligible districts include downtown Durbin for its lumbering history, the New Deal Tygart’s Valley Homesteads at Dailey and Valley Bend, Mt. Iser Civil War cemetery and entrenchments outside of Beverly, and downtown Buckhannon. A number of other communities, homes and sites along the Byway are also of historic significance and would be valuable additions to the interpretation of the pike. A more detailed listing with information on these sites is found in Appendix C
All of the historic Civil War sites are also archaeologically significant. Archaeological surveys of varying extent have been done at Rich Mountain Battlefield, Cheat Summit Fort, and Camp Allegheny, as well as in selected areas of Beverly. Archaeological studies at Fort Boreman will be useful in establishing age, and cultural affiliation of the previous inhabitants. Work is currently underway at Fort Boreman. A section of the old turnpike near Cheat Summit has also been excavated.
Considerable private collecting has also taken place, particularly before these sites were protected, and continues at the privately owned sites. Encouraging cooperation with private collectors and collecting information on their previous findings is a valuable tactic to salvage the information from these sites. Efforts to discourage private excavation and metal detecting are vital to protect the information, which still remains. For similar reasons, the Native American sites that have been identified in the region of the turnpike have mostly not been publicly identified, in order to protect them from looting. A properly presented archaeological survey or excavation as a part of one of the historic sites could contribute both to the interpretation of the site and the education on the proper role of archaeology in learning about our past.
Many cultural pursuits are inextricably bound with the cultural and natural history of the region. The popularity of traditional music, dance and craft programs at The Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins both help to preserve the area’s rich folklife heritage, and to share that heritage with class and festival participants. An impressive variety of artists and craftsmen make their home in Elkins and the surrounding region – some focusing on traditional crafts and folkways, others using the traditions as inspiration for original work. Community square dances and cake walks are still held in some small communities, as well as regular dances in Elkins. Small town festivals such as ramp feeds, heritage days, and fireman’s festivals are held in almost every small community, along with major festivals such as the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins, the Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon, The Central Appalachian Regional Products Festival, the Gold Dollar Days in Weston, the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee at Jackson’s Mill near Weston, and the Crazy About Bluegrass Festival. Local theater is performed by some community high schools and community theater groups, and by the local colleges such as Davis and Elkins College, West Virginia Wesleyan College, or West Virginia University at Parkersburg. The Old Brick Playhouse in Elkins provides a home for contemporary community theater, including a youth program, and also mounts a touring company. Cultural opportunities are highlighted in a bi-monthly Arts Calendar, which lists events throughout a multi-county region traversed by the Turnpike.
Natural and Scenic
Natural and scenic resources are also rich along the pike. Most of the eastern section either borders the Monongahela National Forest, or runs directly through it. Wildlife habitat, wetlands, and sweeping mountain vistas can be contrasted with areas disturbed by coal mining and other extractive industries. The majesty of the region’s high mountain ranges contrast with picturesque rural farming landscapes in the valleys. The Hughes River Wildlife Management Area, Stonewall Jackson Wildlife Management Area, and the Richie Mines Wildlife Management Area provide scenic and recreational opportunities.
The Allegheny highlands are unusual as a division of watersheds. Rivers arise in the region which run four different directions: from the east side of Allegheny Mountain north into the Potomac and south into the James River watersheds, from the west side of Allegheny north into the Monongahela and south into the Kanawha watersheds. This location near the source of the rivers was considered by Claudius Crozet to be an advantage in the building of the turnpike, as the rivers could be bridged while they were still small.
Much of the mountain area crossed by the pike is in forest, including a stand of old-growth native spruce at Gaudineer Knob and Balsam Fir at Blister Run. Wildlife habitat supports a rich variety of species, including the endangered Cheat Mountain Salamander and Northern Flying Squirrel. Wetlands and trout streams, such as the upper Shavers Fork of Cheat, are rebounding habitat recovering slowly from the extremes of logging and mining in the area. These natural areas are contrasted with rural landscapes and farms in the valley areas. Overlooks from the turnpike route on the ridge tops and benches show impressive vistas of surrounding valleys and ridges.
The region traversed by the pike is one of the most popular destinations for outdoor recreation in the East. Mountain biking, hiking, backcountry camping, fishing for a great variety of species in both uplands and lowlands and hunting are already well-established pursuits in the region. The state-managed Wildlife Management Areas are adjacent to or near the Byway offering public hunting and fishing access. The Monongahela National Forest also allows hunting and fishing, both developed and primitive camping, and a vast network of hiking trails. A number of railtrails, such as the Allegheny Highland Trail and the North Bend Rail Trail, can be accessed near the Byway offering opportunities for hiking and biking. These trails offer outstanding opportunities for birdwatching, wildflowers, nature photography, and watchable wildlife.
Excursion train rides are available along some of the historic railroads serving the turnpike area, and can be ridden from Durbin, Cheat Bridge and Elkins, as well as the outstanding historic train at nearby Cass. An innovative outfitter offers train rides to the river to let off campers and river floaters in an area not reached by roads.
Skiing is outstanding at area resorts, and cross-country skiing is available on Turnpike area paths. Horseback riding is also available. There is great potential for additional recreation and entrepreneurial opportunities, such as small group tours, outfitting and guide services, and trail rides.
Chapter 4 – Preservation of Resources
Preservation, conservation, and protection of our intrinsic quality resources are the important first steps towards any program based on those resources. We can not enhance, develop, interpret, or bring visitors to resources that no longer exist. We can not have a resource-based tourism development if the resources have been destroyed. And the beauty, heritage, and sense of place so outstanding throughout the Byway region is largely defined by the natural and historic resources.
In some cases the building, site, or ecosystem is still in good shape either because of good care through the years, or because it has not been threatened or valued for alternative use. Often recognizing and honoring the caretakers are the best way to reinforce such conservation.
In other cases there has been damage or substantial change caused by use through the years. Then reclamation, restoration (returning to original appearance), or rehabilitation (sensitive adaptation to a new use) may be appropriate.
Preservation is not opposed to growth, and does not mean that every resource is equally valuable. Questions of priorities and cost vs. benefit analysis need to be evaluated. But stopping to think and plan first, before the damage is done or the building destroyed, gives the opportunity to make the least costly and most appropriate decisions for the community.
4-1) Preservation issues
Coordination with Traditional Development
The region’s contemporary logging, wood products, gas and quarrying industries are evident along the highway. They are manifestations of the continuum of American industrialization, coexisting and entwined with older forms of community life and work. For the same reason that the river valleys of this region were the prime locations of early settlement, today they are still the prime locations for development.
One of the themes of the Byway would be change, evident in the development of various industries through time. One important subtext would be preservation, conservation, and appropriate management of natural resources, including how existing industries maintain the resources for sustainable growth. By addressing resource issues in the Byway themes and interpretation, we can include the ongoing industrial development and change over time and tie the modern industries in with the whole Byway story. Interpretation of lumbering and milling then and now, for instance, could also include themes of responsible woodlot management and counteract negative stereotypes about timbering. This would provide significant public relations benefits to the business, and business interests may sponsor such interpretation.
Impact of industrial development to the viewshed is inevitable, but when possible should be mitigated. We can not expect the Tygart Valley, for example, to remain a pristine bucolic landscape, for it provides the opportunity for the growth and economic life of the county. Sometimes this involves trade-offs. The large Bruce Hardwoods factory, for instance, which located south of Beverly a few years ago, is a major contributor to economic prosperity. It also is a visual intrusion, changing the landscape of what was once a wide-sweeping valley view overlooked by a lone settlement cabin.
In many cases, sensitive attention to the variety of practical, environmental, and aesthetic factors can make a potential eyesore into a good neighbor. Good planning in the siting of industrial and commercial development can make infrastructure and access more efficient and provide better service for the business, while at the same time allowing for minimizing the negative impact for the surrounding community. Attention to landscaping, site location, and natural screening for a factory can make a major difference between a sensitive addition to the cultural landscape or a major unsightly intrusion. Improvements in traffic flow, services, and appearance resulting from such attention to planning will improve the working conditions for their employees, while also improving the business’s image in the community.
Existing wood products, industrial, and commercial businesses can provide services to the Scenic Byway in the support of sites, interpretation, and marketing, cooperation with clean-up and visual screening efforts, and respect for the highway’s historic ambiance. They would gain benefits in increased market for their goods, increased good will with the local and traveling public resulting from the Byway interpretation, and improved quality of life for their employees and customers.
Development of more and better job opportunities in the area is vitally important, and the heritage tourism jobs, which will result if we are successful in preserving the Byway resources, are only one part of the larger picture. Encouraging business and traditional economic development, and maintaining the resources that contribute to quality of life and attract tourists, are both important for the community. While balancing both of these concerns sometimes takes compromise, they do not need to be essentially contradictory. Emphasizing benefits and educating business leaders about the variety of options and voluntary cooperative ways they can help the community is much more productive than taking a confrontational or regulatory approach to development. In seeking to also preserve the special qualities of the area’s landscape and heritage, and to retain the quality of life that is so valuable for residents and which brings visitors, it is to everyone’s benefit to exercise planning and forethought in development choices.
Building support for preservation
Several techniques can help to minimize and balance the sometimes contradictory needs of population and commercial/industrial growth with preservation and enhancement of heritage and natural resources.
We are faced with an unusual challenge in West Virginia because of the long experience of relative poverty and high unemployment, combined with a local ethic of extreme self-sufficiency and hostility to government intervention. As a result, many of the traditional planning tools and strategies commonly used elsewhere such as countywide zoning are not available and are widely feared. Protection strategies available in neighboring Virginia, for instance, such as agricultural and forest districts, are not supported in West Virginia statute. Overlay districts are supported in law, but are unfamiliar and unlikely at this time to be supported either in public opinion or by local governments. Even many voluntary strategies such as protective covenants or easements are unfamiliar and faced with suspicion and hostility. Thus much of the challenge of instituting improved planning for development is one of education as to the real benefits rather than unrealistic fears of such planning, and of building partnerships, communication, and trust between those parties who may have differing emphasis but who all have the best interests of the community at heart.
Educating the public and the community about the values of its historic and cultural resources can show how those resources contribute to the economic growth of the community, as well as fostering pride in our heritage, special places, quality of life, and cohesiveness of the community. By emphasizing education and partnerships, rather than confrontation or regulations, historic preservation and conservation of our other intrinsic resources can be a force for bringing people together in our communities to find solutions that are best for the whole community.
4-2) Preservation tools and strategies
Preservation planning provides the foresight and context to evaluate, prioritize, and concentrate efforts to preserve the most important resources while balancing other concerns. Involving all partners, stakeholders, and the public in a planning process helps not only to evolve a better plan, but also to build support for carrying it out. In addition to broad based plans like this one, towns, counties, and agencies such as the Forest Service exercise planning which can be used for preservation.
Each site or collection of resources also needs preservation planning, with attention to ownership, management, restoration or rehabilitation, protection from likely threats, and minimizing impact or degradation from increased visitation.
Providing information, technical assistance, access to proper supplies, and workers trained in preservation skills and approaches can be of immeasurable help to property owners and communities. Historic Landmark Commissions established by towns or counties to recognize and encourage historic preservation within their jurisdiction can often help provide such information. Landmark Commissions which have been approved as Certified Local Governments are also eligible for survey and planning grants which can be used for resource surveys, National Register nominations, preservation planning, and education and interpretation.
Purchase of significant property is the most secure first step in preservation. Such purchase may be by a governmental organization dedicated to appropriate preservation and use of the property, by a non-profit organization formed for or sympathetic to such use or by a private business or individual committed to preservation goals. Purchase can also be combined with a preservation covenant or easement on the deed to ensure long-term continuation of the intended preservation should the ownership later pass to a different owner.
Some of the tools useful in specific instances include:
· A preservation easement is a permanent conveyance with the deed to an appropriate holding organization of specified preservation promises for a building or site, most usually affecting the facade of a building. It should have enforcement provisions, and can have tax advantages.
· A covenant is a less formal promise in a deed to preserve a property.
· A land trust is an organization that can buy, sell, or hold property or easements for conservation purposes.
· A partnership or management agreement can establish or share management responsibility for a site without affecting permanent ownership.
· National Register designation offers recognition of historically significant properties or districts. It does not in itself offer any protection status, though it does make properties eligible for some grants and tax credits. Federal agencies must consider properties eligible for the National Register, whether or not they have been previously designated, in any project involving federal funding or licensing.
· Preservation grants are occasionally available, particularly for buildings needing weatherproofing improvements to save the building.
· Preservation tax-credits on federal and state income tax are available for approved rehabilitation to commercial property, and state credits are also now available for residential improvements.
· Design review is sometimes established by a municipality to enforce specific standards determined by the community. Voluntary guidelines may suggest best practice ways to preserve and maintain the historical appearance of the community, but compliance is voluntary instead of regulated.
4-3) Stakeholder education, involvement, stewardship
Community involvement can help promote preservation awareness through such strategies as:
· Demonstrate benefits of resource preservation to local quality of life as well as resulting heritage tourism.
· Demonstrate sympathetic awareness and concern that tourism be properly planned for and not negatively impact local communities.
· Educate local residents as well as visitors as to the significance of their resources and heritage, and the value to them of recognizing and preserving such resources. This is important in the schools as well as for adults.
· Involve people in fun activities that showcase the special qualities of their communities and resources. Festivals and events bring awareness and public relations benefits far beyond their specific activities.
· Keep information flowing about not only the significance of the resources, but the activities along the Byway, and the benefits resulting from those activities. A newsletter from the Byway organization will be a valuable tool.
· Show and encourage ways that local residents and visitors can help in preservation and enhancement efforts. Involve people on a personal level, through school projects, civic groups etc.
· Encourage local and individual buy-in and stewardship – that residents feel these are their resources, sites, and buildings, and care enough to value them and take care of them. Membership in the Byway organization is one avenue for this.
· Support clean-up efforts and public awareness of keeping homes, residences, and businesses attractive and well cared for, particularly along the Byway viewshed.
· Educate adults and schoolchildren on the damage caused by littering and vandalism, and encourage participation in pickup, cleanup, and monitoring activities. Personal responsibility and peer pressure in favor of caretaking will be the best long-term solutions to vandalism damage.
4-4) Roadway improvements, upgrades, new construction possibilities
Improvement of roadways can be a volatile issue particularly when new four-lane construction is being considered. The SPT Byway partners have been careful not to let controversy over such issues derail the Byway effort. It is important that the Byway, and all roadways, be safe and appropriate for the traffic they carry. Tourists as well as local residents need to travel the roads safely and efficiently. But new construction also needs to be balanced against the damage to the existing communities, and to the resources, which they can cause.
For the Byway traveler, the winding two-lane roads that have evolved from the original Turnpike route are a part of the experience. Good shoulders, guardrails, signage, and passing lanes where appropriate help to bring the road up to modern standards of safety and convenience. A review of the accidents summary provided by the West Virginia Division of Highways Traffic Engineering Division, indicates that most accidents were caused by driver error rather than road conditions. Most accidents involved a single passenger vehicle on dry, straight, and level pavement. Weekends and summers were safer than other times. A summary of safety records along the Byway is included in Appendix A – Route and Roadways.
Certain improvements are encouraged where needed, and particularly where construction is needed such as replacing bridges or widening roadways, it is important that the historical resources be identified and protected. Byway resource surveys and local experts can be available to assist in DOT environmental surveys. Damage to historic resources should be avoided if possible, and mitigated, perhaps with additional interpretation, where that is appropriate. It is highly desirable that the Byway organization be considered and involved in this process.
Another factor is the increase in commercial traffic. On those areas of the Byway where a modern four-lane has replaced the Byway route, this is not much of an issue. But in areas where the Byway remains the primary roadway, especially in the Tygart Valley, through towns, and where the Byway is routed on the four-lane, this can cause a conflict with Byway users. Byway motorists who may wish to drive more slowly to enjoy the experience, bicylists, and pedestrians all need to be accommodated in the Byway planning. The Byway organization would like to work actively with DOH to evaluate and suggest where roadway upgrades may be needed and to ensure that all users are considered, and to help develop improvement plans that do not have negative impacts on the intrinsic qualities.
In cases where the traffic exceeds the limits of the road, there are three basic choices, which all have costs as well as benefits. Upgrading the existing road is sometimes appropriate and adequate, but often causes disruption to communities and resources immediately adjoining it. Building a new and often four-lane road in a new location has substantial environmental impact even when it avoids the historic resources, and pulls traffic away from existing communities. Maintaining the Byway on the old route for local traffic and visitors interested in stopping can help keep business in local communities while moving high-speed through traffic to the new road and away from historic districts and residential areas. The third alternative, of no change, causes less current disruption but fails to address crowding and traffic issues.
The SPTA and this plan do not recommend any of these options on a wholesale basis. We believe each particular situation, and each part of the roadway, needs to be carefully examined for the issues, alternatives, costs, and benefits involved in each choice. In this way the best possible decision can be made for the future of the Byway, convenience and experience of visitors, and most of all for the overall benefit to the local communities.
Chapter 5 -- Development of Resource Destinations
Importance of destination and attractions
Protecting intrinsic resources from damage or intrusions is the first step, but the Byway is looking at much more than that. We want to appropriately enhance, develop and manage those resources for enjoyment, education, and visitation both by tourists and local residents.
Encouraging tourism can be a major economic benefit to the communities, creating jobs and economic impact for the region, as discussed in Chapter 11. In order to attract tourists, and to keep them coming back, we need to provide a “destination” -- a thing, or group of things, that tourists are willing to travel some distance to see or experience. We are not trying to offer a single major attraction – an amusement-park approach – on the Byway. Instead, we are focusing on authentic experiences that relate to the real past and present of the region. And we are looking to the variety and combinations of resources, each interesting on its own, which combine to make a total experience that visitors will consider to be a worthwhile “destination”.
Tourists have certain expectations of sites they want to see, and they need to have enough information to attract their interest, tell them what they want to know, offer them an experience, and make them want to know and experience more. Authenticity of resources, well-planned interpretation, interesting interactive experiences, quality services, and a feeling of welcome and hospitality can all combine to offer a tourism experience that will please visitors and create a quality reputation.
In addition to the economic benefit the tourism related dollars generate, the local community also benefits directly by the preservation, development of access and services, and interpretation created by the Byway. Every site developed with the tourist in mind is also available for a Sunday afternoon family visit, a school field trip, or other enjoyment of the local residents. The protected resources become more valuable for their historic and natural significance, help build awareness of local heritage, pride in the community, and thus enhance the region’s unique environment and quality of life for all local citizens to enjoy.
5-1) Management of resources and sites
Management of intrinsic quality resources can involve preservation strategies for properties including care to prevent damage caused by visitation; protection, rehabilitation, and restoration efforts for buildings or resources (both addressed in Chapter 4); development of interpretation (addressed in Chapter 6); and development of tourism access and services such as trails, parking, tours (further addressed in Chapter 7). Both the Byway as a whole concept, and the individual sites and resources, need to be developed and managed for visitors. This chapter includes a summary of some of the types of development needed and where such measures would be appropriate.
Major historic sites and districts
There are a number of major historic sites within the Byway corridor, many of them Civil War sites and historic districts which have been developed, or which have potential to be developed, as a distinct stop for the visitor. The interpreted sites such as Rich Mountain Battlefield, Cheat Summit Fort, and Camp Allegheny, and potential sites such as Camp Bartow, Mt. Iser, and Fort Boreman all have similar development needs. Sympathetic ownership of the site is the first need, either as a protected publicly-owned (government or non-profit) site to be developed for visitors, or with a private owner who is sympathetic to and willing to cooperate in such development. Basic needs then are directional signage to find the site, adequate and convenient parking that does not negatively impact the site, and interpretation – usually trails, interpretive signs, and brochures. Provision for trash, rest rooms, water, and recreational facilities such as hiking trails and picnic areas are also sometimes desirable. Further development can include more personal interpretation such as guided tours, on-site interpreters or living history, and special events such as reenactments.
Community historic districts are the other major type of site, where a combination of resources and services can be combined to offer more to the visitor in a practical way. Durbin, Beverly, and Weston are well on the way for such development and are considered hub communities to develop Byway services. Beverly is the pivotal location to provide a major hub for the Byway, both because of the significance and quality of its existing resources, and due to its gateway location on the Byway and near to existing tourism services in Elkins. Other potential gateway locations are Buckhannon, Weston and Parkersburg. Durbin is another logical hub because of the concentration of trailheads and tourism entrepreneurship there. Bartow, Huttonsville, Mill Creek, Dailey/Valley Bend, Troy, Cox’s Mill, and Smithville also have significant potential for additional development of community sites. In addition to the signage, parking, and interpretation which are basics of any site, such community-based sites may also offer visitor or information centers, a wider variety of attractions such as museums, historic buildings, historic transportation attractions, research, recreational and cultural activities; as well as restaurants, shopping, lodging and other services. Development of facilities for groups, activities, and cultural events can serve tourists as well as community groups, and enhanced dining and commercial opportunities will please local residents as well as visitors. The uniquely significant 1808 Courthouse in Beverly in combination with its associated historic buildings, is being developed as the Beverly Heritage Center interpretive attraction for the Byway, providing an outstanding opportunity to preserve and restore vital historic buildings, and use themfor the benefit of the Byway and its visitors. Weston State Hospital offers tremendous opportunities for adaptive reuse that can contribute to understanding of historic stories, as well as attraction to the modern Byway. Graceland Mansion on Davis & Elkins College campus in Elkins, is a National Historic Landmark that has been restored as an inn and restaurant.
Historic buildings & minor sites
A number of other historic resources contribute to the Byway experience but are not likely by themselves to have enough significance, and/or property-owner interest, to be worth developing as a separate stop with tours, visitor access, or major interpretation. Identification and interpretation in brochures, or with wayside signage, can enable the visitor to understand the importance of the building or site, and to view it from the road, but not to intrude on the privacy of the owner. These include:
Minor camp or skirmish sites such as Cheat Pass Camp and Roaring Creek Flats, and locations of early settlement sites.
Historic homes or buildings – Many buildings have specific local or regional significance such as the See/Ward house, the Phares cabin, the WPA built stone building of the Department of Highways Garage west of Buckhannon, the Weston Colored School, and the Farnsworth House in Gilmer County. Others contribute to the Byway history as examples of a class, such as company housing, or a typical farm house. In some cases, such as the Hutton House or Cardinal Inn, they are open to visitors as a business. In most cases they are in private use and it is not necessary that they be opened to visitors to the Byway, but their story can still be included. Owners of these properties should be included in the planning, education, and preservation activities of the Byway, and may choose if they wish to open their homes for special events that feature historic home tours.
Archaeological sites – in some cases the already identified historic sites are also archaeological sites. Interpretation of the archaeological resources, as well as signage and enforcement of no collecting laws, can help to protect the sites and educate about the significance of the resource at the same time. In the case of sites such as Native American sites and some minor skirmish sites that have not been publicly identified or located, such sites should remain unmarked as a protection against looting. The significance and story represented by these sites can be included in general interpretation such as brochures or exhibits at Byway Visitor Centers without disclosing the exact locations.
The Byway area is rich in natural resources, many of them already developed and managed by the Monongahela National Forest or West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Corporations who own large tracts of timberland will often allow public access as well. Forests, open savannas and meadows, wetlands, rivers, caves, and rock formations are all found through the National Forest and adjoining properties. In the Tygart Valley and further west property is more in private ownership, with greater residential density and more farmland. It is important to encourage access to the natural resource areas that can be made available here, such as Valley wetlands near Huttonsville, and the mountain woodlands on Rich Mountain.
Some natural resources are not available for visitors either because they are too fragile, or are on private property with restricted access. In some cases other similar resources are available elsewhere, or the sites and their significance can be interpreted with exhibits and pictures at a Byway Visitor Center. In a few instances, it may be appropriate to allow limited access with careful conservation interpretation, perhaps only for approved tour groups.
Partnerships with natural conservation-minded organizations such as watershed associations and trails groups can expand the opportunities for appropriate development and presentation of unique natural resources and ecosystems.
The Byway offers opportunity for some spectacular scenic views of the countryside. When going from east to west the Turnpike traveler goes from the rugged highlands of the Allegheny Front at over 4,000 feet to the undulating hills of the Ohio River Valley. To be most effective and safe, these need to be developed and maintained to provide for sufficient clearing to see the distant view, as well as a safe place to pull off of the roadway for viewing.
One location already being developed by the Monongahela National Forest is at the eastern peak of Cheat Mountain at the Pocahontas/Randolph County line. Specific clearing, grading for pulloff and trail, and plans for signage have been initiated.
Another spectacular viewshed is available along Camp Allegheny Backway where intermittent cleared fields on both sides of the road provide pristine long views. Due to the slow pace and lack of traffic on the back road, pulloffs are not as essential, although some attention to appropriate grading to allow a vehicle to get out of the main roadway would be appropriate. Landowners can be encouraged to keep these lands in pasture to allow for continuation of this scenic viewshed.
A potential view that could be developed would be along the western peak of Cheat Mountain overlooking the Tygart Valley. At a couple of locations where the old turnpike roadbed provides a natural pulloff location, the woods blocking the view are privately owned, and would involve obtaining landowner cooperation in clearing a viewshed. Another possibility might be a short side-road off of the Byway at the top, where the woods would be in Forest Service jurisdiction and thus easier to obtain cooperation in clearing and maintaining a viewshed.
The Turnpike also descends Buckhannon Mountain, a major escarpment with a spectacular view on the old roadway that is now a part of the freeway system. There is a former scenic overlook on SR 47 on Bean Ridge in Ritchie County. In the 1960s postcards of this view were popular. Trees along the road now obstruct the view. Perhaps this view could be opened again.
Another scenic view project is at the top of Rich Mountain just north of the Rich Mountain Battlefield proper. Clearing and developing of a scenic overlook on this knoll has been identified as a part of the RMB trails development project. Other scenic view locations along the Byway or Backways could be developed when appropriate cooperation from property owners can be obtained.
5-2) Development of resource-based experiences
Special events offer the opportunity to highlight a community, site, or theme in a much more intensive way. They attract tourists to the event, but also raise public awareness, bring media attention, and involve local residents in the activities. Town festivals, reenactments, fairs, and other promotional events are prime ways to increase interest and awareness. They also provide the concentration of numbers of visitors to make more elaborate efforts effective.
A number of such events are traditional along the Byway corridor such as Durbin Days, the Buckhannon Strawberry Festival, the Elkins Forest Festival, and the Beverly Fireman’s Festival. Civil War reenactments held at the sites have been developed in recent years. The Battle of Rich Mountain is now successfully established on a biannual schedule, and smaller reenactments and living histories have been held at Cheat Summit Fort and Camp Bartow. Hybrid events at Beverly Heritage Day, and Gold Dollar Days in Weston combine living history, historic home tours, and heritage emphasis activities in a community setting.
Coordinating and supporting these events as Byway activities is an important component of resource development.
The Byway region is rich in traditional Appalachian culture, both as handed down to local residents from their families, and as revived and nurtured by folklorists such as with the Augusta Heritage Center based in Elkins. Events such as the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee at Jackson’s Mill a few miles from Weston, and the West Virginia Folk Festival at nearby Glenville, bring traditional culture to a vast audience. Old-time music, traditional community dances, heritage crafts, regional antiques, farming and woods skills and folkways, and storytelling are all abundant cultural resources that can enrich the Byway experience. It is important that such culture, and those residents who choose to share it with visitors, are respected, and their privacy not compromised.
Collecting and documenting the stories of the Byway is an urgent and ongoing priority to preserve older residents’ memories. The Byway audio history project is collecting oral histories about the Byway, its communities and its themes and culture, and hopefully can be continued and expanded. These unique stories provide the material for a unique audio interpretive presentation telling the Turnpike story for visitors and the communities. The oral histories themselves will also be archived for research and future projects.
Community centers, co-op galleries, and interpretive centers all can provide opportunities to offer experiences representative of the local culture, as well as local businesses such as craft and antique stores. These can include products for sale or display such as crafts, antiques, artwork, photographs, and recordings or videotapes of music or stories. They can also be experiences such as participating in a community square dance; eating at a community dinner; hearing a musical concert or front porch session; seeing a play or living history impression; taking a specialty tour of a traditional homestead, a mushroom or edible plant walk, or an isolated historic site; joining a class in learning a traditional craft or art.
In addition, there are also opportunities for contemporary artists who derive their inspiration from the heritage and natural resources. Painters and other fine artists, craftspeople, musicians, and theater can all enrich the Byway experience.
Providing venues to present the cultural resources --whether they be crafts or artwork or music or dance for the visitor to view or participate in -- is a significant need for the Byway. A Byway Visitor Center such as is proposed in Beverly can offer a space appropriate for cultural activities, as well as a venue for presentation of crafts and other products of the culture, and can provide a significant and exciting addition to the Byway experience, without imposing on the privacy of the local residents.
Many outdoor recreation activities are already available along the Byway, especially those that are based on individual initiative to explore the natural environment. Hiking trails, rivers for fishing, woods for exploring, hunting, or primitive camping are all available, particularly on the Monongahela National Forest lands and the Wildlife Management Areas. Further development of hiking & biking trails, trails as community linkages and in conjunction with the historic sites, and along the non-National Forest portions of the Byway are needed.
The excursion trains now offered in the Durbin area and from Elkins are an exciting example of a recreational attraction that can be developed as an integral part of the Byway experience. Additional attractions that are based on the resources and themes offer future tourism-business opportunities.
Support for and development of outfitter and recreational services will be helpful. Additional attractively developed camp sites and motor home services; boating, canoeing, and fishing services; bike and cross-country ski rentals; horseback riding; and specialty tours are all examples of recreational business opportunities along the Byway.
New interactive opportunities.
Beyond the planned site development already described, a variety of possible new interactive programs for visitors can offer exciting and innovative experiences. Some of these can be initially developed in conjunction with special events, or offered by reservation, then expanded to a more full-time offering as visitation numbers increase to support them. Some of these ideas include:
Specialized tours will be important, either of single sites or thematic groups of sites. These can be on-site tours of specific sites, complete tours of multiple sites including transportation, or step-on guides for bus tours or planned groups. Tour guide training can be offered with special emphasis on including human-interest stories and first person interpretation. Such training can be made available to teachers and volunteers as well as entrepreneurs, and will help to assure quality presentation. Some isolated sites that are not appropriate or accessible for self-guided visitors can be made available in specialty tours. Wildlife, botany, and other natural themes could also be featured in tours as well as with specialty brochures.
Expanded alternative transportation opportunities, appropriate to the turnpike era, are possible. Horseback trail rides, wagon, or stagecoach rides would all offer opportunities for recreation and historic interaction in the same activity. A prime opportunity for such rides would be along Camp Allegheny Backway between Camp Allegheny and Camp Bartow. Antique car rides would be another possibility, perhaps at a different location. These would help to complete the transportation story already available with road travel, excursion trains, and hiking and biking trails.
First person interpreters and living history are always popular with visitors and make a site come alive. Encouraging existing tour guides and visitor information providers to offer a first person impression enlivens the contact. Providing living history events and reenactments by volunteers can be a big draw, though volunteers are generally available only for special events. Paid interpreters at selected sites can be a goal to work towards as visitation increases.
Chapter 6 -- Interpretation
The Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike was critically important in the settlement and development of sections of Western Virginia, and was strategically significant in the early years of the Civil War. In interpreting the Pike, the two primary themes are the building and usage of the Turnpike, and the Civil War campaign fought to control it. Secondary themes to complete the context include prehistory and early settlement of the area, including the increasing need for improved transportation; the coming of the railroads and extractive industries that changed the transportation and development patterns; and the change brought by the twentieth century and increased reliance on automobiles. Interweaving of these themes with the geographical locations that are related to each provides an interpretation challenge, but offers the opportunity of telling a complex and richly interesting story.
We are fortunate in interpretation of the turnpike and its Civil War sites that many of the most important sites along the turnpike already have some interpretation. This will allow visitation of the turnpike to begin immediately. Interpretation plans at these sites call for continued improvements over time, and all future interpretation needs to include the Turnpike context.
Three basic groups of visitors need to be planned for in interpretation.
One group will be those with an existing interest in, and usually some background knowledge of, the Civil War, the turnpike, and/or other heritage sites. This will include Civil War buffs, followers of the area Civil War auto tours, some tour bus groups, and descendants of participants in the battles. Others will be attracted by the transportation and settlement history of the turnpike, or may be interested in Appalachian culture. These visitors will be interested in, and expect, a fairly detailed interpretation of the events and participants.
The second visitor group will be local and area residents, including school groups and civic groups. They will want to know why the road is important to their locality. They should come to feel some “ownership” of the pike and its assets, and hopefully will return for repeat visits.
The third group will be casual visitors who are driving the Byway, or who are looking for “something else” to do while in the area. They will want briefer interpretations that will catch their attention and explain the basics without losing them in too much detail. They will also be attracted by scenic vistas, nature, and a variety of other types of experiences.
6-2) Interpretive Themes
The overall theme of transportation as told in the story of the building and usage of the Turnpike is applicable along the route. Even the sites not actually on the pike will either be on a feeder pike, or will have related stories such as the difficulty of transportation without a turnpike. The Civil War campaigns were fought to control the transportation routes, and later railroad and automobile road developments are also transportation stories. This is the one thread that can be used to tie together the widely varied stories and sites throughout the corridor.
The political struggle to build this turnpike was a part of a significant sectional antagonism in Virginia politics. The battle between development of the canals and transportation routes favored by the moneyed eastern interests, versus the need for trans-Allegheny routes to serve the western settlers, was critical in the long-running dissension between the two regions, and was a significant factor in the separation of West Virginia. First proposed in 1823, the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike was not financed and built until the 1840s. The engineering difficulties of building the road over the high mountains were considerable, and the technological story of the pike is also significant to the interpretive story. The stories of a number of individuals should not be left out, including state engineer Col. Claudius Crozet, Napoleon’s chief of engineers, bridgebuilder Lemuel Chenoweth, and a number of local personages who we can identify as serving as surveyors, contractors, or toll-keepers along the pike.
Travel on the turnpike offers the opportunity to interpret fascinating human-interest stories. Visitors enjoy hearing about stagecoaches and inns, tollgates and fees, and famous personages, such as Stonewall Jackson, who traveled frequently on the turnpike and spent his formative years at his uncle’s farm and mill near the Turnpike. Contrasting the realities of early travel on this pike with familiar modern modes of transportation helps to bring the whole story alive for modern visitors.
The second main theme, and perhaps the most compelling, is the 1861 Civil War First Campaign. The main strategic goal of this campaign was to control the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike and its related routes that led into northwestern Virginia and provided access to the vital B&O Railroad. The Federal control of northwestern Virginia that was established in this campaign made possible the formation of the state of West Virginia. In addition, General McClellan’s victory in this campaign led directly to his promotion to command the Army of the Potomac. These factors give national significance to this campaign, thus making the sites much more important than the size of the action would indicate. The Civil War sites are also the most visible, best protected, and best interpreted for visitors of the turnpike sites. Other Civil War stories include the Jones-Imboden Raid, much of which occurred along the western sections of the Turnpike, which was the most significant Confederate incursion into the Trans-Allegheny west.
The prehistory of the area is underrepresented in sites, yet is quite important. Much myth exists about where and when Indians lived in the mountains, and some mention of the archaeological evidence in the interpretive materials will help to bring light on this issue. There is a mound site near the Pike at Elkwater, plus the stories of an Indian village at Mingo Flats. Selected prehistoric camps or quarry sites could be made public and interpreted in the future if security concerns could be met. Most exciting is the recent excavation of a prehistoric village at Mouth of Seneca. The Monongahela National Forest Visitor Center at this site will have extensive interpretation about this prehistory. Although some distance from the route, Seneca is an important gateway for tourists coming into the area. These stories are an important counterpoint to the much more common mention of Indians only as attackers of the early settlers.
Early settlement is represented by a number of monuments and markers of early settler fort sites, and of Indian massacres of settlers. The only actual buildings remaining are a few early log structures that have usually been heavily altered. One of the earliest remaining log buildings, the Jacob Stalnaker cabin, has been moved to Beverly and is being restored to its circa 1800 appearance. The growth of population in the Greenbrier Valley, the Tygart Valley, and the Ohio Valley contributed to the need for the turnpike through this area. Traveller’s Repose, although in a different building, was a post office from 1813, and a number of buildings remaining in Beverly and in other towns along the road date from this era.
The coming of the railroads and extractive industries in the 1890 to 1910 period brought a boom to the area that shaped the cultural landscape we know today. There is great potential in the development of sites to showcase this period and the railroad, mining, and lumbering history. An excursion railroad departing from the original Durbin depot offers a great opportunity for interpretation of the railroad history, in addition to the more elaborate operation at the nearby Cass Scenic Railroad. Interpretation opportunities also exist at the remaining train depot in Elkins. Lumber mill towns like Mill Creek offer potential for presenting the past and future of this important industry. The Frank tannery, recently closed, was the shaping force behind that small town, and leaves a vacuum in its wake. Towns that grew and prospered as a result of the oil and gas boom suffered the same fate. The glass industry, especailly in Weston and Parkersburg played a major role in the industrial developoment of West Virginia. Emphasis on lumbering and forest themes is particularly important in carrying the story into the present day, as wood products remain the primary industry of the region. All of this interpretation will tie in with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area regional initiative, and the Turnpike can be a major interpretive avenue for these Forest Heritage themes.
One particular twentieth century site must be included for interpretation. This is the Tygart Valley Homesteads, a New Deal homestead community in the Dailey - Valley Bend area. The integrity of these communities is high, with many of the homes retaining much of their original appearance and landscaping, a relative minimum of non-contributing infill, and a number of homestead buildings, including the craft and community buildings, the school, and the lumber mill, still in use.
The changes in routing with the coming of paved roads can be interpreted as changes in the technologies of roadbuilding. Changes and similarities in vernacular architecture through the years can also be seen along the Pike. Automobiles have brought economic changes due to the opportunity to commute much farther to jobs, with the increased traffic and development along some sections of the pike route. Interpretation of growth and development can help the visitor differentiate between the historic landscape, and the modern manifestations of change.
Natural and cultural themes
In addition to the historical and archaeological themes detailed above, the turnpike corridor also offers interpretive opportunities for other intrinsic qualities.
A great wealth of Appalachian culture is represented in communities along the pike, including crafts, music, dance, story telling, and rural life. The Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins works to document the culture and folk life of the region, in addition to offering classes in many of the traditional arts. A number of organizations encourage specific crafts many of which are available to tourists at gift shops. Dances and live music are sometimes available in the communities, especially in conjunction with special events and town festivals. Appalachian Culture will be a primary theme accompanying the Turnpike Interpretation in the Beverly Heritage Center now under development.
Access to and interpretation of the natural and scenic resources provides a prime opportunity along the turnpike. Interpretation can encourage interest in the plant and animal species, encourage hiking and other recreational use of the forest, and include conservation messages. There are abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking and biking trails, fishing and canoeing, cross-country skiing, camping, and hunting.
6-3) Interpretation challenges
Due to the unpredictability of visitors and the distances between sites, full-time on-site interpreters are often not practical at the more remote sites. On-site interpretation initially, therefore, will be self-guided and independent of direct personal contact. This situation may change with further development, and increased visitation to the Byway. Tours by reservation, for groups, and for events may be practical, as well as living history interpreters for special events or occasions. Whenever possible, whether full-time or for special events, in-person interpretation is more exciting for most visitors. Visitor centers that serve multiple functions will provide more opportunity for direct contact.
While the turnpike offers a great wealth of interpretation opportunities, this very richness can become an obstacle. This brings an inherent clash between serving the “buffs” that want a great deal of information, and the “casual” visitor who is overwhelmed and discouraged by too much detail. The variety of resources is so wide that visitors could be easily confused, and the important messages lost in the mass of information. It is essential that interpretation keep its primary goal of exciting and challenging the visitor to think, and to want to learn more. Within this charge, the interpretive materials will have the twin challenge of highlighting and concentrating on the most important themes, while at the same time offering a variety of information and opportunities to meet the needs of different visitors. Offering several different targeted brochures will be one way to do this, as well as staying consciously aware of the need to keep the themes and goals of each interpretive piece clear.
6-4) Interpretive Strategies and Products
An inexpensive promotional brochure or rack card about the Turnpike, the Byway, and the Alliance should be widely distributed to raise interest. It will make clear where to get further information.
A comprehensive brochure with interpretation on the themes and sites will be the primary information source for most visitors. A single multi-page brochure with map and site instructions is the likely format. Due to the length of the turnpike and variety of resources, care will be taken in selecting and presenting information to reflect the richness and variety of turnpike resources, while also providing sufficient information about sites available for visitation to guide visitors on their travels.
Site brochures or walking tour brochures will be useful supplements needed for major sites, districts, and specific sections of the Turnpike. The already completed interpretive booklet is an example of a special purpose piece, giving considerable thematic historical interpretation that will be invaluable for the serious visitor about the Pocahontas and Randolph County section of the Pike. Specifically targeted thematic brochures can be developed to also serve other natural history and other interests in the western half of the Byway.
More extensive booklets and books will also be desirable to be available for purchase at gift shops, to provide more information for those who want to learn more as a result of their visit. They will also offer a quality purchase to take home from the visit.
Gateway waysides at selected locations will offer an attractive introduction to the Byway, and provide tourists with information and interpretive context.
Interpretative waysides at various locations along the pike will give a briefer picture of contributing sites to the turnpike, and explain their context and significance. Natural sites can be included here as well as historical ones. A series of wayside interpretive signs along the initial sections of the Byway has been funded in the Scenic Byways grants, and are currently being developed. They will be coordinated with Civil War Trail interpretive signs focusing on the First Campaign. Funding for continuation of these signs along the rest of the Byway is being sought.
Interpretive signage at major sites will be developed in individual site interpretive plans, and should be coordinated with other Byway signs.
Exhibits and Visitors Centers
Visitors centers will be developed at key sites along the pike, each most likely sponsored and run by different agencies. Each center will make available all brochures and materials. Some such as the Beverly Heritage Center will be specifically Turnpike Interpretive Centers, offering interpretive exhibits, context interpretation for the pike, with different center perhaps specializing on a different theme related to the pike. In other cases, county-run Tourism Information Centers will provide tourism information about the Byway along with their other info.
Museums and historic buildings with displays and exhibits of specific themes will be major attractions that also contribute to the Turnpike story.
Libraries and archives of local and thematic materials will provide a major attraction for genealogists and serious enthusiasts. Collected oral history and videotaped materials can be archived as well as manuscripts, original source materials, books of local interest, and photocopies of materials out-of-print or not easily available elsewhere.
A promotional slide show about the turnpike history and resources has already been developed, and used extensively in early promotion, education, and interpretive programs for the Turnpike.
A web page for the Byway has been initiated by volunteers, and even in its primitive form has been well received. A full-service web page with both overview and in-depth interpretation is being developed funded by a Byway grant. The flexibility offered by this medium allows for serving a wide variety of interests and niche audiences, as well as giving opportunities for presenting stories not suitable for in-person site visitation. While the primary purpose of a web page is interpretive, it can also serve other functions. The most obvious is promotion and visitation information, with links to existing county tourism sites. The web page can also be useful for internal communications, providing up-to-date information for Byway organization members, stakeholders, and visibility for local residents.
Audiotapes derived from oral history interviews offer an exciting alternative overall interpretation of the Pike, while also preserving and making available the oral history stories. The audio series is available as audiotapes or CDs, as well as for radio programs. They also offer a non-visual interpretive option for visually or reading impaired visitors. Additional oral history interviews are needed from the western sections of the turnpike, which offer an opportunity for future expansion of the series.
Developing of video interpretation programs will be an important future objective, useful for broadcast and promotion, for educational and school use, and in visitor centers.
Each staffed visitor center will offer crucial opportunities for personal contact and answering questions.
By reservation or special occasion tours can be developed to offer more opportunities for in-person interpretation. Visitors Centers with appropriate facilities to gather and provide services for larger groups of people at one time will be necessary to serve tour groups.
Special events, cultural activities, festivals, reenactments, and living history will be encouraged and coordinated with the turnpike themes to provide more opportunities for in-person interpretation, visitor participation, and to encourage increased visitation and awareness of the Byway.
Regularly scheduled tours, site interpreters, and/or living history interpreters for several of the major sites are a longer-term objective for Byway interpretation.
Chapter 7 -- The Visitors’ Experience
7-1) Tourism in West Virginia
West Virginia’s tourism industry has experienced quantum growth since the late 1960s, when whitewater rafting began drawing attention, guests, and investment into the state. The development of the interstate highway system and upgrading of transportation infrastructure (such as the building of the New River Gorge Bridge), also begun at that time, provided an integral component for further expansion of the industry.
Creative entrepreneurial thinkers conceived snow skiing in West Virginia’s mountains, the rehabilitation of properties into small inns and restaurants, a contemporary craft industry, recognition of the state’s claim to America’s Best Whitewater, and recognition of our terrain as the basis of a world-class outdoor recreation industry, including mountain, rail trail and road biking, rock climbing, backpacking and hiking.
Tourism development in West Virginia has featured a valiant combination of bootstrapping entrepreneurship, unflappable determination, creative adaptation, and resourceful promotion of existing facilities. Lacking capital for development, some tourism businesses have assessed what they had to sell, and promoted it regardless of whether it was “ready for prime time.” This strategy can be effective in startup phases, but to mount a tourism industry that competes in the greater American marketplace, providing viable careers and broadscale economic development, it is necessary to determine what markets a region wishes to cultivate and create the infrastructure to serve them. This requires tourism industry education and substantial capital investment.
In the midst of excitement about West Virginia’s notable achievements, it is sobering but necessary to do a “reality check,” to gauge how the state is perceived as a tourism destination in relationship to other states in its geographic region, and to another state that is similar in geography and demographics.
National research on travelers’ behavior and opinions conducted by D. K. Shiflett & Associates (DKS&A) of Falls Church, VA in 1998 indicates that in comparison to travelers to Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Arkansas (West Virginia’s competitive set), travelers to West Virginia were the least satisfied with their experience. The DKS&A report, drawn from responses to 45,000 monthly mailings to carefully selected test market groups of representative socio-economic strata, yields data pertaining to market assessment, visitor profiles visitor satisfaction and value ratings. The report states that in 1998, 49% were highly satisfied with their stay, and 46% believed that the destination offered high value for money spent.
In comparison, the DKS&A report states that overall, approximately 58% of the nation’s travelers were highly satisfied with their experience and approximately 52% felt they received high value for their money. Of all the states in the competitive set, North Carolina received the most favorable rating for satisfaction and value. Arkansas and Pennsylvania received relatively high value rates, while Maryland received the second highest satisfaction ratings.
How should West Virginia’s travel industry interpret these statistics? The research indicates that West Virginia’s core base of overnight leisure travelers come to visit friends and family. Tom Dewhurst of DKS&A says that people who travel to visit friends and relatives tend to give lower satisfaction ratings. They are not as likely to spend money on top quality lodging and restaurants, and because the numbers are spread across the entire state of West Virginia including those areas that are not developed for tourism, the averages tend to be lowered.
The “drivers” of satisfaction and value include such items as lodging experience (quality and price of room), restaurant experience (quality of food and service and price), quality of signage, availability of information, general friendliness and helpfulness of people, price of gasoline, price and quality of attractions, convenience of design, and convenience of banking facilities and other services.
“West Virginia still has some perception problems in the nation at large,” Dewhurst says, an opinion echoed by Colleen Stewart of The West Virginia Connection, a receptive operating company located in Parkersburg. Both Dewhurst and Stewart agree that once visitors are introduced to regions of West Virginia that are more highly developed for tourism, the perception of satisfaction and value increases markedly.
The development of tourism infrastructure along the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike Byway presents an excellent opportunity for carefully planned development that will meet the needs of well-considered markets. New public/private models for investment, development, marketing and promotion can be developed here that could be beneficial for the State of West Virginia, the region and the nation.
7-2) Users of the Byway
Current and potential users of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway are examined in more detail in Chapter 10 Marketing. The range of types of visitors to be expected include
Heritage and cultural tourists such as:
· Civil War history “buffs” and scholars
· others interested in specific historical topics, such as early American history, early settlement interests, lumbering/coal and industrial development, railroad and other historic transportation enthusiasts
· those interested in history in general, preservation, or local history of the area
· individuals and groups interested in rural mountain folkways, arts, cultural, or entertainment experience,
· Individuals and families interested in genealogical research, or specific research or study about area history or themes
Outdoor enthusiasts and ecotourists, especially those drawn by the Monongahela National Forest, including
· hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers, cross-country skiers
· climbers, cavers, whitewater enthusiasts, and other active outdoors activities
· wildlife watchers, birders, interests in wild plants or interesting ecosystems
· tent campers and motor home campers, family campers
· hunters and fishers
· skiers and other vacationers on their way to Snowshoe Mountain Resort or the Canaan Valley ski resorts,
Travelers or drivers touring the roadways:
· driving or motorcycle touring enthusiasts interested in the scenic and travel experience
· “getaway” travelers looking for a variety of new experiences
· travelers whose first concern is business.
· family and friends of current residents in the region,
· Local and nearby residents who travel and enjoy the roadway frequently
When the byway is designated, signed and promoted, businesses and organizations can expect to see an increase in
· day tourists driving from within 50 to 100 miles of any point along the by-way corridor
· multi-day vacationers who are combining interests in history, outdoor recreation and scenic touring,
· special interest tourists who are interested in specific attractions offered or promoted on the Byway, both heritage and outdoor attractions
· group tours of sightseers for such annual events as fall foliage, and specific events, such as heritage festivals and town celebrations, and general touring
· special interest group tours, including students.
What Do Visitors Expect?
When they have been invited through such marketing strategies as media relations, advertising, promotional packages and cooperative cross promotion, brochures and Internet, guests will expect hosts who welcome them, and meet their needs and expectations created by the marketing strategies. They will expect facilities on par with their standard of living and with other promoted tourism facilities they have experienced in the United States. Although much of West Virginia’s appeal is based on its quaint, old-fashioned ambiance, the quality of services and materials such as bedding, linens, furnishings, and style of presentation must be at least comparable or superior to the norms in other tourism regions if the industry hopes to increase its satisfaction and value ratings.
“Getaway” travelers are often singles or couples with a wide age range. They can be enticed to visit the region via the scenic byway in search of rest and relaxation, a change of pace and scenery, and a refreshing glimpse of another lifestyle or culture. They may be outdoor recreationists or cultural tourists. Often they are interested in a variety of experiences and will be responsive to different types of unique authentic experiences, interesting interpretation, and quality services. If they are responding to articles they have read, broadcast media they have seen or heard, or advertisements in various media, they will have higher expectations that must be met in order to capture repeat business and build the region’s reputation as a good travel value. Customers for a new, relatively unfamiliar destination earned through publicity and promotion will expect professional service in hotels and restaurants, well-planned tourism facilities, and conveniences. The potential for cultivating this market depends on how much capital and creative energy is invested in developing facilities that appeal to this market, and the level of consistent, professional promotion that sells that development.
To satisfy the needs of families, hands-on activities and action-oriented facilities are recommended. Child-friendly accommodations and restaurants are a must to cultivate return visitors. Entertainment activities for children are important, both in addition to and as a part of age-appropriate educational interpretation. Play stations for children that incorporate opportunities for learning about culture and history should be developed along with adult information. Perhaps specialists in family tourism such as Dorothy Jordon of Travel with Your Children, Inc. should be consulted regarding development plans along the route. Opportunities for children to safely leave vehicles to visit observation areas should be a part of the development plan, and perhaps a story line involving children could be incorporated in the interpretive materials that connect sites and time periods. Families will also often include individuals with a variety of interests, so cross-interest opportunities are important.
Group Tourism simply refers to activities involving travel for groups of people. A group may number as few as six, may fill a standard motorcoach of 47 passengers, or come in multiples of hundreds and even thousands. Many tourism properties and attractions base their entire businesses on capturing the lucrative group tour market. A subset is meetings and conventions, which demand many of the same facilities, amenities and attractions as leisure tourism even though their primary reason for visiting a destination may be for business reasons.
Not all group tourism is on such a large scale, and often it is targeted to specific interests that the Byway can attract. Family reunions, war and historic event reenactors, motorcycle touring enthusiasts, college outdoor clubs, enthusiasts of all descriptions who may subscribe to special interest journals, belong to clubs and organizations, or attend events especially designed with their interests in mind—these groups constitute a huge market served by magazines, motorcoach (bus touring) companies, museums, and many kinds of retailers and wholesalers.
Who is in the Group Tour Business?
· Festival and event planners should consider themselves in the group tour business.
· Attractions whose success depends on volume, such as tourist trains, retail shops, restaurants and hotels.
· Developers and marketers of hotel properties should plan new facilities and improvements to existing facilities to at least accommodate group tours, and perhaps to cultivate motorcoach tour business.
The motorcoach industry prefers (and sometimes demands) enclosed, interior hallway access to rooms (rather than room doors directly to the outside), ADA-compliant facilities, elevators for properties where guestrooms are not all on ground level, and usually at least a three-diamond AAA rating, which indicates a degree of sophistication in furnishings and decor, bath amenities, and above-average comforts in addition to standard cleanliness and functionality.
Motorcoach guests prefer dining in main dining rooms, not in inferior, windowless banquet rooms apart from other guests, as if they were second-class customers.
Comfort facilities should offer multiples of at least three toilets each for men and women, making rest stops hassle- and complaint-free, increasing the satisfaction of motorcoach travelers, thus making a route or destination viable for the group travel industry.
Hofer Tours, Inc. of Plainfield, Illinois, an upscale motorcoach touring company that offers historic Virginia itineraries, says to capture the business of one of its standard 47-passenger motorcoaches, a hotel or motel should have at least 50 rooms, and be within range of a choice of restaurants with seating capacity of at least 100. This indicates to the motorcoach company that the property has the staff to comfortably serve motorcoach patrons while continuing to serve its other retail clientele. Smaller properties can cope with the impact of 47 to 50 visitors arriving at once if they can comfortably break the group into smaller parties, which can be rotated to different stations.
The National Tour Association, an organization of motorcoach companies and tourism industry marketers, teaches motorcoach hosts to implement the “Red Carpet Approach,” which entails actually rolling out a red carpet for arriving guests, and a check list of services and tips that ensure the group’s needs and desires are met or exceeded. Exceeding expectations is the way to build business in this highly competitive marketplace of mid-Atlantic region tourism.
Although many who are only superficially familiar with the group tour industry associate it with busloads of little blue-haired ladies, Sue McGreal and Colleen Stewart, two West Virginia tourism business people who act as receptive operators, planning itineraries and making arrangements within the state for motorcoach companies, say there is growth in demand for smaller “executive” bus tours accommodating up to 24 passengers, and that the growing “boomer” market is interested in itineraries that include time for soft adventure activities in addition to road touring. They will “linger longer,” spending more money in the region if it provides easy access, activities, and comfort.
“The baby boomers want a variety of activities,” McGreal says. “They are action oriented. Snowshoe Mountain Resort has developed such activities as paintball, and action facilities such as a climbing wall, BMX track, skate park, activity center, nature study, and crafts component. The resort is trying to hit every angle it can.” The new, younger motorcoach group tourists are looking for schedules that allow them at least a half-day to pursue their own interests.
Both McGreal and Stewart have also observed growing interest in group tours that focus on a region’s history, folkways, customs, architecture, and lifestyles—in short, heritage tourism. Both providing services such as step-on guides for tours coming in, and organizing and running Byway-specific theme-based tour operations offer opportunities for entrepreneurship along the Byway.
Special Interest Groups
Civil War enthusiasts, colonial and Early American history enthusiasts, rail buffs, amateur genealogists, antique collectors, covered bridge enthusiasts, cavers, ecologists, walkers, runners, birders, seniors, singles, single parents, educational organizations—groups can be sorted into literally hundreds of categories according to their interests, and there is probably at least one organization, journal, Internet site, and touring company that caters to them. In West Virginia, groups of secondary school students studying West Virginia history, and college students studying tourism make up a segment of the specialty group tourism industry worth cultivating.
To build and serve these markets, the tourism organization must know the special interest group’s needs and preferences, provide easy access, specific information and interpretation, and whatever special facilities, equipment or services may be required for access, comfort and convenience. Smart marketers will anticipate specialty groups’ needs and desires, helping them find ways to derive the most and best experience during their stay.
Encouraging, preparing for, and “niche marketing” to promote to those special interest groups who will find what they are interested in along the Byway is an excellent way to increase both numbers of visitors and visitor satisfaction at the same time. By appealing to those tourists who are looking for the authentic experience that the Byway offers we will bring tourists who appreciate and are interested in the unique qualities they will find here.
7-3) Visitor Services along the Byway
This section offers a brief summary of types of visitor services available along the Byway, as well as a discussion of some improvements and additional facilities that would be desirable.
Bartow has one older-style mid-level motel, as well as another motel a few miles south on route 93. One family dining restaurant (at the motel) and a grill in Bartow. Rest rooms for customers at restaurants. Brochures and information about attractions at the Greenbrier Ranger Station – brochures available 24 hours, information and ADA rest rooms available during business hours. Some gas stations, convenience store, no supermarket.
Many of the town’s buildings date to the early 20th century, providing the opportunity for a tourism hub for the Turnpike and Forest Heritage attractions. Some buildings are being refurbished and preserved for use in connection with the Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad, a scenic excursion train enterprise that is injecting the area with a renewed sense of purpose and optimism. Durbin Outfitters is working with the train and trails to develop tourism opportunities. Grill and gift shops in town. Gas stations, liquor store, and convenience stores. Cheat Mountain Club high-end lodge is several miles out of town.
Two historic Bed & Breakfasts, and a guest home rental, leather goods gift shop near Correctional Center, gas station.
This community is a lively center of local activity. If you go to the Mini Mart restaurant or the Pizza & Sub Shoppe, you get a clear picture of who the locals are and their preferences. One motel, mostly local shopping including grocery store. There’s no pretense or self-consciousness. Businesses here serve the local community and its tastes. A couple of craft stores could be developed to serve the tourism market more.
Dailey – Valley Bend
The Rich Mountain Inn restaurant is newly opened in an historic Tygart Valley Homestead building. Serves standard country fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, geared to local tastes. Has potential to serve the tourist market if developed. Gas station and convenience store, a few local businesses.
The 1790 Town of Beverly is the primary hub of the eastern section of the Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike Byway, and the community that has invested the most effort so far in interpreting the Turnpike and providing Byway information. Its buildings, museums, and collection of historic attractions make it a focal point for visitors. It is easily accessible from Elkins, and is at the trailhead of the Rich Mountain Backway that leads to the Rich Mountain Battlefield. The part of the village that can be seen from the road has quaint aesthetic appeal. It is the natural interpretive center for the Scenic Byway.
Beverly currently has no lodging, but is only six miles from Elkins, which has numerous motels. Beverly has two local diner restaurants, a grocery store, convenience stores and gas stations. Several new businesses have opened in recent years located in historic buildings, with a focus on tourism markets featuring antiques, crafts, gifts, and specialty items. With public awareness of the Byway and promotion of Historic Beverly, an awareness of the growing tourism business is bringing interest in new entrepreneurial opportunities in Beverly.
The Rich Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center, in the historic McClellan's Headquarters building in Beverly, is currently serving as the Byway Visitor Center. Because it also contains offices for RMBF and other organizations, it is staffed year-round and available for Visitor information. It also has an extensive new exhibit on WV Civil War history and the First Campaign, including specifically interpretation related to the Turnpike. Space is limited here though, and the facility can not comfortably serve more than a dozen people at a time. The building is handicapped accessible, but the two small restrooms are not.
Beverly is developing a multi-function Beverly Heritage Center to serve as a Byway Visitor Center, offering interpretation, tourist and group tour meeting space, and accessible public restrooms. Thiscombined use facility in historic buildings in the Beverly Historic District will combine preservation, interpretation, and provision for visitor needs. Interpretation here will focus on turnpike construction and commerce, especially as related to Historic Beverly and the mountain section of the Turnpike, in coordination with the more Civil War specific interpretation, as well as a Appalachian Community Culture exhibit fitting the community into the larger regional context. The Randolph County Courthouse, the Beverly Bank building, the Hill store building, all currently owned by Historic Beverly Preservation, as well as the Bushrod Crawford building owned by RMBF, are being rehabilitated together for this center. The combined facility will provide visitor information, services such as accessible restrooms, and related sales opportunities, in addition to the interpretive offerings.
Historic Beverly is also working together to develop a coordinated Heritage Tourism plan, including preservation, organization, museums and interpretation, and developing sustainable heritage tourism business. The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway can be a key partner in this development, with the Byway Visitor Center as a primary interpretive and visitor service component.
Elkins is not actually on the S-P Turnpike route, but rather on the historic Beverly-Fairmont feeder turnpike. The extension of the S-P Turnpike Byway designation west is routed through Elkins due to the routing of modern roads. Located 6 miles north of Beverly, it is the largest town in the middle of the Byway with currently developed tourism and commercial infrastructure, and has a full-time tourist information center. With a population of approximately 7,500 residents, the town is the home of a small, private liberal arts college, and has been cited as one of the best 100 small arts towns in the United States. It boasts a variety of restaurants, an excellent health foods store, antique and high quality craft shops, and 14 lodging establishments from traditional homegrown and budget chain motels, to quality bed & breakfast inns, to Graceland, the refurbished lavish mansion of industrialist Henry Gassaway Davis, which is an inn and conference center. Elkins will be the most accessible and satisfactory lodging location for most visitors to the eastern half of the Byway, and stands to benefit considerably from Byway development.
Many travelers’ services are available, including an historic hotel, motels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and gas stations. There are many churches, a hospital, and banks. As the County Seat for Upshur County, Buckhannon has a Court House, sheriffs, and lawyers. The West Virginia Wildlife Center is 12 miles south of Buckhannon on Route 20. The Upshur County Historical Society has a small museum and research facility.
Near Weston is Interstate 79 where there are motels and restaurants. In town are three antique stores, a visitor center in the former Weston Colored School, and five restaurants. With its proximity to I 79 and its location near the center of the Turnpike, Weston may serve as a convenient stopping point for through travelers along the route, as well as a gateway for those going east or west. A short distance north of Weston is Jackson’s Mill 4-H Center, which was Jackson’s boyhood home. A few miles south is the Stonewall Jackson Lake and State Park Resort. The Weston State Hospital, an outstanding National Historic Landmark site, is currently undeveloped, but with tremendous potential for tourism impact when successfully restored for adaptive reuse.
Between Weston and Parkersburg
Small towns, scenic visitas, and rural landscapes are found along this rural section of the Byway – a truly rural backroads experience. There are a few gas stations and convenience stores, but little in the way of visitor amenities. There are recreation opportunities in Ritchie and Wirt counties – hunting and fishing, and further on in Wirt and Wood counties- fishing and boating along the Hughes and Little Kanawha rivers.
In Parkersburg are many fine restaurants, delis, bakeries, pizza shops, and fast food restaurants. For lodging the Blennerhasset hotel is an upscale historic hotel in the downtown area. There are several chain hotels and motels, as well as Bed & Breakfasts. Other services include banking, gas stations, museums, theaters, entertainment, and recreational facilities. The historic Blennerhasset Island State Park is accessible by boat from downtown. An associated Blennerhassett Museum, and the Oil and Gas Museum are both located downtown. The Trans Allegheny Used Book Store is a unique shopping experience in an outstanding historic building, formerly the Carnegie Library. With its many attractions and location at the western terminus of the Turnpike, Parkersburg is a natural for a gateway and visitor center for the interpretation of the Turnpike and the history of transportation.
7-4) Development of the visitor destination
Improvements and services that could enhance the Visitor’s Experience
Information and image
Byway identification signage, directional signage, and brochures with directional information help the visitor understand where he or she is, where they are going, and available services such as parking. In person contact at Visitor Centers help visitors feel welcome and answer their questions.
Interpretation in the form of signage, brochures, exhibits, visitor centers, audio, video, and in-person interpretation all highlight the significance of sites and stories along the route.
Increasing visibility of and information emphasis on the Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike Byway can be the unifying element under which various aspects of recreation and touring are organized.
An attractive, interesting, and easily navigated web site is increasingly important in attracting visitors and serving them during their visit. The web site serves image, information, and interpretive functions.
Develop periodic hub communities with a concentration of attractions and services in one locality. Durbin, Beverly and Elkins are the logical hubs on the eastern Byway, and Buckhannon, Weston, and Parkersburg in the west.
Further develop attractions and coordinate hours open to customers along the Byway and in the hub communities.
Package attractions and offer tours that help visitors easily find and experience what interests them.
Business and entrepreneurial development
Create opportunities for development and marketing of a variety of quality heritage art and craft items attractive to guests. Tie in development and presentation of cultural resources of the Byway with providing sales opportunities of benefit both to the local producers and to the traveling public looking for uniquely appropriate shopping opportunities. Training seminars in creation, production and marketing could help educate potential crafters regarding market potential. Development of a handicraft gallery possibly organized as a producer co-operative, can present heritage crafts as a cultural resource in a venue that can sustain operations and create income opportunities.
Encourage development of new lodging and dining establishments, and encourage existing establishments to be more aware of advantages of offering quality and variety for the tourist market.
Build a coordinated program to promote Byway businesses. Such a program could combine business membership in the Byway organization, quality control review and approval to use the Byway logo on business signage and literature, technical assistance for improving the business offered as a service by the Byway organization, suggestions for signage design that would coordinate with the Byway image, and promotion in Byway brochures and services advertising.
Tourism facilities and services
Increase visitor conveniences such as more public and handicapped accessible restroom space. This is important in the hub communities, along the Byway, and at the more isolated sites.
Create facilities and services for motorcoach groups including “red carpet treatment” for stops in Durbin, Beverly, Buckhannon, Weston, and Parkersburg. Develop facilities for larger groups, meetings, and events to hold activities.
Address the high traffic problem on U.S. 250/219 through Beverly that makes it difficult and potentially unsafe for pedestrians to cross the road in town. Ensure safe road crossings on U.S. 250 in Durbin as well, and other locations where pedestrians will be present.
Develop off-road parking and comfort stations for recreational vehicles at approximate 35-mile intervals along the byway. These could be in the vicinity of Bartow or Durbin, Beverly, and Mabie or Norton, in the east, and Buckhannon, Weston, Troy, Smithville, and Parkersburg in the west.
Packaging of Attractions
Attractions can be packaged together in promotion, tours, and shared ticket packages based on three different ideas. All can be appropriate for use on the Byway.
Packaging of similar cultural attractions together helps to create the scale of attraction to draw visitors interested in that theme. It will appeal to and help serve the tourist who is highly motivated in that interest. For instance, interpreting and promoting the Civil War sites together improves the experience and the story context by presenting a whole campaign instead of just one site, and it offers a combined attraction that will draw Civil War tourists from some distance away to see, where an isolated site might not.
Another approach is to package different types of cultural attractions together, such as a tour that visits both heritage sites and natural sites. This appeals to those with incidental interests in any one type of attraction, such as many getaway travelers and families. By offering and encouraging a variety of experiences, we can give a boost of interest by introducing visitors to the new and unexpected.
The third type of package combines cultural attractions with non-cultural products or services – for instance lodging, restaurant, shopping coupons combined with the attraction visit. Many businesses can participate in this approach to both attract customers and help offer them improved satisfaction with their visit. Promotions or tours by modern industries could be packaged along with related-theme heritage tours. Special events offer another excellent opportunity for attractions and services combined and promoted together.
Tours of various types offer an excellent way to package attractions and serve visitors. Self-guided tour brochures can be based on themes, activities, or logical driving routes of varying length. Guided tours either by a tour guide or costumed interpreter can be offered at individual sites or for a more extended tour, either regularly scheduled or by appointment. Specialty tours to experience unique activities or out-of-the-way places can be an unusual but exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs or outfitters. And many bus tour companies will want availability of local step-on guides to present the local resources to their group.
Development of planned tour itineraries; brochures, trained quality tour guides, and tour opportunities are all recommended projects for the Byway.
Attractions based on heritage themes and resources
In order to attract and please tourists, the first requirement is that they find attractions that they want to see and experience. Demand will ultimately drive future development of facilities and attractions along the scenic byway, but anticipation of needs of the most desirable markets can hasten and increase that demand while ensuring greater visitor satisfaction and a truly viable tourism industry.
The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance could use the excellent American Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia as a model and fountainhead of themes that could be further explored and developed. The road reaches across America’s first frontier to the historic town of Parkersburg, just across the Ohio River from what was once the Northwest Territory. The road is a natural unifying connection between time periods and developments that dramatically tell the story of American exploration, political struggle, ingenuity, and industrialization.
Staunton’s American Frontier Culture Museum was conceived as part of the American bicentennial celebration by an international group interested in demonstrating the several strands of history woven into the fabric of American settlement. Buildings from actual family farms in regions of Germany, Northern Ireland, and England that contributed heavily to American settlement have been transported to the museum, existing a short walk from an 1853 Shenandoah Valley farmstead. The museum, located just off Interstate 81, is open every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s, serving approximately 80,000 tourists each year. Interpreters at each of the farms actually take care of the animals, do farm chores, and engage in continuing research about lifestyles in the regions, and local immigration to America.
Living history demonstrations similar to those at the Frontier Museum, either as special events or as full-time attractions where feasible, make an exciting and popular way of presenting historic sites and cultural folkways to the public. Stops along the Scenic Byway can be developed to each tell its story in exciting ways. Union and Confederate soldiers could maintain encampments. Native American villages and campsites can be interpreted, as well as early settlement forts and cabins. An early farmstead could be interpreted with original buildings, such as those dating back to 1806 that still stand on the property of the Cardinal Inn. The town of Beverly can offer walking tours, historic home tours, museums, shops, and activities focused on a mid-19th century market town; while Durbin can offer buildings, attractions, and shops illustrating an early-20th century lumbering town. Smithville, Mill Creek and Frank can also be interpreted as examples of different early 20th century industrial complexes. The Tygart Valley Homesteads offer a well-preserved example of a 1930s New Deal community. The interconnecting stories of the families who settled the region and created its history are great material for entertaining displays and updated forms of historic drama (as employed at the Frontier Museum) that emphasize authenticity while also offering entertainment.
Transportation between sites or at specific stops could include a variety of vehicles and modes of travel such as stagecoach or wagon travel with stops at genuine stagecoach taverns and hostelries; or rides along the turnpike in an antique car; scenic railroads that take visitors into the wilds of Pocahontas and Randolph Counties providing glimpses into old cultures and ancient wilderness landscapes; hiking and biking between sites and along backroads and previously abandoned sections of the turnpike, as well as on cross-country mountain trails and rail-trails.
With creative development and interpretation, while retaining an emphasis on authenticity and maintaining the original fabric of the communities, the entire Scenic Byway could become an exciting and unique interactive museum of time periods.
Development of these themes and materials could provide entrepreneurial opportunities and employment for people in the creative arts, crafts, administration, marketing, and support services. Both developing and operating the sites and attractions, and the businesses that serve the visitors, offer economic community development opportunities for the Byway communities.
Communities along the byway would be encouraged to view their communities, architecture and culture through the prism of visitors to whom it is interesting and unique. One possibility for a unified approach would be through a single not-for-profit corporation that provides development capital, administrative and marketing support services. A single cooperative entity could provide the critical mass necessary to make a substantial economic impact, and provide not only for the development of first-rate visitor services but for an employment structure that could support insurance and benefits for full-time workers, an interesting array of part-time jobs, valuable experiences for people entering the job market, and internship opportunities in marketing and management for students pursuing careers in professional hospitality, tourism, and related fields such as historic preservation.
With cooperative planning, focusing on authenticity, and appealing to visitors who prize this cultural experience, increased tourism can be encouraged which will bring economic benefits and jobs to the community, while avoiding and minimizing the negative aspects tourism development that over-commercialization and lack of respect for the local culture have produced in some areas. The broadening of perspectives is one of the benefits of cultural tourism. By resurrecting or preserving historic elements important to the foundation of various communities along the Byway and using them as the motifs for design of future facilities and attractions, their protection and conservation could enhance both the visitor’s experience and the quality of life for the contemporary communities.
Snapshots of a Potential Future: A Vision of The SPT Byway in 2015
The entire Byway has been designated and promoted nationally as the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike National Scenic Byway. Visitors can buy one ticket to all or sets of attractions along the Byway at terminals such as Staunton and Monterrey, Virginia; Bartow, Durbin, Beverly, Elkins, Buckhannon, Weston, and Parkersburg.
A coordinating private non-profit corporation administers employee benefits and programs for some attractions, and marketing, planning, development and fundraising for the Byway as a whole. Uniform days and hours of operation are established and maintained for SPT sites along the byway and backways. This STP Alliance plans and promotes year round activities along the Byway, cooperatively staffing museums and sites critical to the interpretation of the route.
A wide variety of touring and attraction options are available, designed to accommodate tourists’ budgets ranging from modest to lavish. From backpackers to luxury inns, each visitor can find the unique mix of experiences that suit his interests.
Drivers can explore the Byway at their own rate, stop at the scenic overlooks and interpretive waysides, and listen to exciting audio tapes interpreting the life along the Byway as they drive. For those that prefer a guided tour experience, dynamic trained tour guides offer small or large group tours along the Byway and for specific sites.
With transportation history as a major theme, tourists are offered a variety of transportation options to experience. They can book various kinds of passage on sections of the Turnpike, depending upon the desired length of their excursion and their budget. First class would be a plush ‘cadillac’ stagecoach drawn by four to six horses. Other classes could involve buckboards or wagons typical of the mid 19th century. Excursion trains probe into the wooded wilderness, or take visitors on a day trip from Elkins to Beverly & Dailey. Antique automobile rides also explore selected backways. Bicycle touring companies lead multi-day tours along safe bike paths developed near the byway and its backways. Horseback riders, mountain bikers, and hikers can all be found along sections of the byway and backroads. Natural and outdoor recreation opportunities are available through the Monongahela National Forest, as well as at a variety of other sites along the Byway.
Tourists can stop for a meal or overnight lodging at such authentic stagecoach taverns as Traveler’s Repose at Bartow, the Coach House at Staunton-Gate near Weston, and a variety of other rehabilitated historic properties.
Excellent arts and crafts are available in shops all along the byway, with emphasis on period crafts appropriate to each community. One might be a major craft community at Dailey, formerly Eleanor Roosevelt’s planned Tygart Valley Homestead community. Finely crafted furniture made of local hardwoods, pottery, leather items, and other quality items are available here or by order. A craft school also operates here, teaching quality craft production techniques. The Homestead is interpreted with an exhibit center and driving tours. Waitresses in the restaurants are dressed in 1930s attire. A restaurant and evening entertainment area features menus and music reminiscent of this period.
At Beverly, the Beverly Heritage Center is a Byway Visitor Center interpreting the Civil War history of the Turnpike as well as Appalachian Community Culture. A variety of historic buildings are open as craft and antique shops, museums, or for activities. Many venues offer interpretation and sales opportunities together, such as the Lemuel Chenoweth House and Antiques featuring the famous local bridgebuilder. Historic buildings feature working craftspeople, who both demonstrate and sell their wares. The Logan house research library also interprets Turnpike construction and surveying. The historic 1808 Courthouse interprets early Beverly history, and the David Goff house the Beverly Union Hospital. Rehabilitated meeting space in town can be used to accommodate special events, meetings and small conventions, family reunions, along with theatrical events, traditional music and dancing A historic Inn and theme restaurants serve visitors in traditional style. Public comfort facilities are available here as well as central offices for the Staunton -- Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance.
Confederate soldiers at Camp Allegheny or Camp Garnett, Union soldiers at Fort Boreman, Cheat Summit or Rich Mountain will share their camp experience with the visitors, and show them a first-hand tour of the site. Battles and larger-scale reenactments are held as special events on a regular basis.
The impressive Weston State Hospital is rehabilitated as a multi-use site providing extensive economic development opportunities, plus museums including transportation, Civil War, and social service and mental health themes.
The authentic backroads experience on the drive between Weston and Parkersburg features interpreted stops sharing tales of settlement and commerce, underground railroad, Civil War conflict and industrial development. Rural farms line the roadside, while accessible woodlands offer recreational access. Restaurants, shops, and Bed & Breakfasts have developed in some of the rural Byway communities, providing jobs and opportunities for local residents. Communities all along the Byway reap the economic benefits of a well-marketed tourism industry.
Chapter 8 Signage
Good signage strategically placed is essential to a pleasant and safe visitor’s experience as well as integral to effective marketing. Signs are badges of identity that convey several kinds of information at a glance. The gilded and carved wooden signs familiar to travelers in New England are meant to convey “expensive good taste.” Some other Scenic Byways, such as the Historic Columbia River Highway and Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway in Oregon, offer outstanding examples of context-sensitive design, gateways, and signage. By studying such examples similar ideas and principles can be adapted or incorporated in development of the Staunton – Parkersburg Turnpike Byway.
Billboards along a highway intend to serve demand for travelers’ immediate gratification; but billboard overload cheapens and obscures the landscape. New billboards are not allowed along designated sections of Scenic Byways.
The objective for Byway signage is to provide clear information that the traveler needs and wants in a way that is attractive and contributes to the Byway experience, rather than detracting from it.
The West Virginia Byways program and West Virginia Department of Transportation provide specific Byways signage along designated Byways and Backways. In addition, certain types of directional and informational signs can be available. All signage erected along the public roadways of the Byway must meet Department of Transportation regulations.
Turnpike “gateways” at each major trailhead or Byway entrance will be identified by Byway signage. These gateways will enhance public identification of the Byway and provide information about the Byway opportunities. In addition, signage along the Byway will provide reinforcement to visitors that they are still on the Byway, and give them all the information they need to find and enjoy the Turnpike attractions, interpretation, and services.
A comprehensive signage plan will be developed in cooperation with the WV Department of Transportation and Byway program to address these needs. Existing DOT regulations provide for specific Byway and site identification signage. Cooperation with those SPTA partners familiar with local attractions, needs, and traffic patterns is essential in determining the best placement for designated signage. In developing the specifics we need careful planning to provide visitors with optimal information, stay compliant with existing regulations, and also keep signage minimally intrusive along the Byway.
Although the highway signage uses only the DOT approved logo, a unified logo and look specific to the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike is highly desirable for all other purposes. Ideally this motif will be coordinated along the entire Byway, including the Virginia sections. The symbols or icons should be easily recognizable, and used consistently on brochures, printed materials including advertising, and other types of public communication. The logo that has been developed based on a wagon wheel has already achieved some visibility. Continuing to use this logo, or a close variation on it, may be best.
Road signs should reassure travelers that they are on the correct route, announce locations of specific sites in plenty of time for travelers to make decisions, and also facilitate identification and use of interpretive waysides, located in properly designed roadside pull-offs. The state Scenic Byway signs will provide recognition and way finding along the route. Existing program identification signs for historic sites and visitor services will be used to help visitors find the attractions they are looking for. This SPT logo should be used on brochures, interpretive signs, and on-premises signage for participating Byway businesses and attractions. Using the logo consistently and as frequently as possible will help to provide strong viewer identification.
Careful, thorough integration of regulatory, interpretive, warning and directional signs should move visitors along the scenic byway and its backroads in a safe and efficient manner. Development of a detailed signage plan specifying exactly what signs are advisable in each location is an urgent priority recommendation. The West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) Guidelines will be used in developing the plan. These Guidelines are those provided by the WVDOH, and are enumerated as follows:
· When the Heritage Trail is routed over a state maintained highway, the Division of Highways (DOH) will furnish and install signs along the Heritage Trail to guide unfamiliar motorists who are following the Heritage Trail.
· The signing to be installed by the DOH will typically consist of a 24” by 24” Byway or Backway Symbol and an appropriate 21” by 15” arrow on the approach of an important intersecting road to the byway or at locations where the byway turns at an intersection. In addition, a Byway or Backway Symbol without an arrow will be installed just past the intersection where a byway turns and also at 3 to 5 mile intervals along the Byway or Backway.
· The standard West Virginia Byway or Backway Symbol sign shall be used for all signing. No logos unique to a specific Byway or Backway shall be installed on DOH rights of way. The name of the Heritage Trail can be displayed within the body of the sign.
· Signing to interpretive facilities shall consist of a 24” by 24” Byway Symbol, a 24” by 18” plaque with the name of the facility, and a 15” by 21” arrow. No separate logos will be installed.
· We will not use signs for historic districts, nor mileage signs, or visitor center signs. We will not sign facilities that are closed to the public, nor places without a safe pull off area for at least two cars. We will not sign loops or spurs off the byway. Signing will not be installed on approaches to the byway from minor county routes.
· On approaches to the byway on major roads such as Interstate 79”Left 500 Feet” or “Right 500 Feet” plaques should be placed under the Byway Symbol sign.
· We will develop a map to be provided to motorists who intend to follow the byway. The map should be keyed using a numbering system to relate to sites in the field.
· Signs will be used to direct motorists to the historical district information center and not simply to the historic district.
· Up to date Kiosks will be provided to get the attention of motorists.
· Within a designated historic district, numbered sites will correspond to a walking tour brochure that may be obtained at a kiosk, or a visitor center that is open during regular operating hours.
· No signs will be placed on a state right of way without specific written permission by the DOH.
· Museums that have been approved as meeting the listed guidelines may be signed.
· A portion of the Byway corresponds with Appalachian Corridor H. No historic markers will be placed along this portion.
· Historic markers may be placed with the consent of the Department of Culture and History in areas sufficient to accommodate at least two vehicles, and behind a guardrail, or absent a guardrail, at least 12 feet from the edge of the pavement.
Gateway Signage -- Attractive and informative gateways will provide a strong welcome, a visual identity for the Byway, and information for visitors.
The gateway at the Virginia / West Virginia state line at the top of Allegheny Mountain has a rudimentary pull off at the Backway intersection, with a plethora of single signs stuck haphazardly on both sides of the highway. Signage at this location badly needs to be coordinated to introduce visitors to the Byway and to West Virginia. The concept of an attractive and developed gateway wayside, including multiple signage and visitor information, is strongly advised regardless of the particular site and design that are chosen
Another initial gateway is at Beverly. As a major attraction as well as gateway to the Byway and Rich Mountain Backway, a staffed interpretive and welcome center is particularly appropriate in addition to gateway signage. The other major gateways are at Weston and Parkersburg. Use of similar design elements at various gateway locations, would provide common identity as well as information.
Interpretive Signage -- The Division of Culture & History’s historic markers are readily recognized by state residents and in many cases have been in place long enough to be historically significant themselves. New historic markers can also be arranged if supported by a local sponsor and may be an appropriate interpretation tool in some locations. They have two major drawbacks. One is the limitation of type and amount of information they can contain – the length is limited and they can not accommodate graphics, use of headlines, or other visual means to enhance the text message. The other difficulty is that usually these signs are placed along roadsides with no provision for warning travelers of the sign ahead, and no wayside or pull-off for the traveler to stop and read the sign. Since the messages are too long and the text too small to read from the road, this means many of these signs are essentially useless and unread at best, and can be actively dangerous to drivers attempting to stop in unsafe locations or trying to read them while driving.
This CMP strongly recommends that interpretive signage along the Byway be located at safe waysides or pull-offs along the Byway. They can either be located on adjoining property, or on highway right-of-way with an extended shoulder, as seems advisable in each location. If possible, each wayside should have advance signage with the SPT logo, ¼ mile in advance, warning motorists of a wayside ahead. At the wayside, if there are existing or planned historic markers they can be placed where they can be safely read from the wayside. Most of the new interpretive signage for the Byway should be low-profile fiberglass-embedded or equivalent interpretive signs that support graphics and visually exciting interpretive messages. The design will be coordinated whenever possible with interpretive signs at the individual sites. Each wayside will focus on one theme or subtheme of the Byway. In some cases they can be combined with historic sites, walking trails, picnic facilities, or scenic overlooks as appropriate.
Advertising signage – It is essential both for the visitors and for businesses that advertising signage be clear to convey business services and information. Yet it is important to the Byway that such signage be attractive and not detract from the Byway experience. The Scenic Byway program prohibits future billboards as off-premise signage, and permits for new billboards will not be issued. According to the sign control regulations as enforced by Division of Highways, on-premises signage of one sign no larger than 150 sq. ft is allowed up to 500 feet before a business in each direction, and in addition signage is allowed within fifty feet of the business.
These permitted signs should be quite sufficient to advertise the location and promotion of Byway businesses. They will be even more efficient if combined with a coordinated program to promote Byway businesses, including suggestions for signage design that would coordinate with the Byway image, use of Byway logo, and promotion in Byway brochures and services advertising.
One difficulty with the existing regulations is there is no provision for providing signage along the Byway for businesses that contribute to Byway services but are located a short distance off of the roadway – thus not qualifying as on-premises signage. Signs for such businesses of appropriate size and design seem to be a different situation than large billboards advertising unrelated commercial activity. Yet they are treated the same in DOT regulations.
An exception to the sign control regulations is called the “segmented out rule” which allows the byways program to agree to exempt specific segments of the Byway that are largely commercial and industrial and which do not contribute to the intrinsic qualities. These sections can be established on a case by case basis when signage requests are filed. The Byway organization, with assistance from a designated review authority in each county that includes local representatives of the Byway organization, will be responsible for reviewing such requests. This review may approve segmentation if the requested sign is in an area with existing intrusions or commercial/industrial activity, and may deny the request if it would impact the intrinsic qualities of the Byway.
The maps in Appendix C indicate those areas of the Byway that are currently in commercial or industrial use. Segmentation upon request will be approved for commercial and industrial areas. Segmentation will not be approved for areas with identified historic and natural/recreation sites that retain their significance and integrity. Those areas on the maps indicated as forest, agricultural or residential are considered to contribute to the scenic intrinsic qualities of the Byway, and are assumed in most cases to be inappropriate for outdoor advertising. However, the Byway will review and consider segmentation requests in these areas, and may possibly allow segmentation if the area in question has little integrity, pre-existing intrusions, or the requested sign is considered to not intrude on the Byway intrinsic quality at that location.
The maps and intrinsic quality inventory lists may be reviewed and updated on a periodic basis, and modified based on new information or changes in sites, conditions and land use patterns. The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway will seek to enforce the outdoor advertising regulations on the Byway in a way that protects the intrinsic qualities and maximizes the Byway experiences, but at the same time balance that with the need to provide information for travelers and support appropriate business development along the Byway.
Chapter 9 -- Administration and Management
9-1) Stakeholders and public participation
Initially, the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance (SPTA) was a collaboration of interested partners representing a variety of organizations, agencies, and individuals in Randolph and Pocahontas Counties, with discussion and participation from Highland County, Virginia. Each of these areas independently became interested in developing and connecting its historic sites, and the collaboration worked well to coordinate those efforts. Early support from the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service, the Beirne Carter Foundation, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service helped fund initial projects.
In preparing the Byway nomination, additional outreach was made to local and county governments, civic groups, and other stakeholders. To raise grassroots awareness and support, the SPTA held several public meetings at various locations along the Turnpike to make direct contacts with groups who had not previously been involved.
In the development of this CMP, two types of public meetings were held. A number of focus groups met on a regular basis to discuss resources and issues and make recommendations for the CMP. The active focus groups were: cultural (dealing with historic, cultural, and archaeological resources); natural (dealing with natural, scenic, and outdoor recreation resources); government and roadway (dealing with governmental jurisdictions, planning, and highway issues); and tourism (dealing with tourism and marketing). Participants for these groups were drawn from volunteers and representatives of other groups in the region with expertise in those issues, with particular effort made to involve more partners than had been active in the original SPTA. These focus groups identified existing resources, discussed goals, objectives, and strategies, and made recommendations for Byway development within the area of their focus. In addition, a Byway Steering Committee made up of representatives from each focus group helped to bring the information together. The four goals identified in this plan were synthesized by this Steering Committee from the work of the different focus groups.
Public meetings were held in four locations along the initial Byway – Durbin, Huttonsville, Beverly, and Coalton. Each of the goals was presented and comments collected from the participants about each area. Questions about the Byway and future plans were answered as well.
In expanding the CMP to serve the middle and western sections of the Byway, additional public meetings were held in Elkins, Parkersburg, Buckhannon, and Smithville. Discussions there included the Byway program and its effects, including the outdoor advertising impacts; SPTA goals and objectives, and discussions of intrinsic qualities and community needs in each locality.
Participation was particularly good from the citizens of the smaller communities, but we found weak spots in participation in some areas, particularly from some of the town governments. Future outreach efforts will want to concentrate on making personal contact with key groups and leaders, and making sure that Byway information is more widely disseminated. With the increased visibility as the Byway is developed, this task will become easier.
9-2) Management Structure and Functions
The SPT Byway needs a management structure that will serve to coordinate and follow-through with the activities outlined in this plan. Such a structure should be strong and dynamic to provide leadership and manifest the Byway vision, while also providing the services and coordination needed. This organization should supplement and work with existing agencies and organizations without unnecessary duplication of administrative resources.
Formalizing the Organization
One option was to continue the operation of an informal collaborative organization made up of partners contributing to the Byway. The original Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance served well to bring partners together, build enthusiasm, and serve as the nominating organization for the Byway. With the assistance of various partner organizations as fiscal agents, the informal SPTA managed several projects, including events, interpretive materials, and the first draft of this CMP. As a long-term management agency, however, the informal organization had several weaknesses. One is the dependence on flow-through organizations to receive money, when each organization has its own original priorities and constituency to consider. There is difficulty in follow-through, which becomes more critical with multiple projects underway. Another drawback is a weakness in public perception and visibility. And, inevitably, to undertake development of the scope identified in this plan, there will be a need for professional staff. Volunteers and contributions of staff time from partner organizations are always welcome and will continue to be desirable and necessary, but can not be relied on alone to maintain the continuity and level of effort needed for this project.
A formal non-profit corporation has now been established, which has benefits in being eligible to receive many more types of grants (including DOT Scenic Byways grants), in being able to receive tax-deductible contributions, and in having a formal accountable structure that is visible to its constituency. An independent organization, with its own bank account and staff, will be able to work more effectively across geographic lines and interest groups, will be more visible and more accountable, and potentially, much more effective.
The Alliance membership will include the contributing organizations, agencies, and jurisdictions that can be identified and who express interest in participating, as well as individual residents, landowners, business operators, users, and other stakeholders along the Byway. The membership group will function largely to gain input from the members as to the needs and desires of the stakeholders, success or problems of implementing the CMP, and to disseminate information on efforts and progress along the Byway. Full membership meetings once or twice a year can offer programs and reports on Byway efforts, and regular mailings or newsletters can keep members informed and in touch with activities. All participants in CMP projects will be included in this group.
This group is best structured on a membership basis so that members feel ownership in the organization. A nominal individual membership fee is recommended to encourage participation, with a somewhat higher business/organization rate. Donations at higher levels can be encouraged, as well as sponsorships or higher rates for promotion or other benefits. The basic membership fee should be adequate to cover administration of the member database and newsletters, while the donations and sponsorships can over time help to defray some of the organization’s costs.
Partner organizations will be members, but will in addition have a special role as active participants in some segment of the Byway. In most cases they will have specific interests in a site, type of resource, or business activity that is a subset of the Byway activities. By furthering their own interests and projects, sharing information about their efforts and coordinating with other Byway plans, and by cooperating and contributing directly to the Byway coordination and promotion efforts, they will be furthering their own goals as well as working together towards the Byway goals.
Overseeing the actual development of the Byway will be the responsibility of the Board of Directors. The membership on the Management Board should be representative of the variety of partners and the geographic extent of the Byway, but should also be composed of representatives who are willing to make the commitment to attend meetings and participate in the activities of the Byway. The primary staff people should be active participants with the Board of Directors.
A key to the success of a single organization for the entire Byway will be the operation of regional groups. Whether organized by county, or by a group of counties in proximity, these regional groups will provide the on-the-ground work and partnerships it will take to make this project work, and to build and keep local support. Representatives from the regional groups can then be sent to the Board of Directors to help coordinate efforts along the whole Byway.
The staff needed for the organization will include:
An Executive Director to oversee management and resource development activities
Office support staff
A marketing director with tourism promotion and development skills
Community relations coordinator(s) -- either one person who travels, or separate coordinators in each region
Some of these roles may be initially combined with others, or may be part-time positions depending on the funding available and the pace of progress on the projects, but the work outlined in this plan could easily support several full-time professional positions. Initially, such support will need to come from grant sources, and request for such funding is included in the CMP recommendations. This is a major benefit to seeking National Scenic Byway designation, since only National Byways are eligible for grant funding for staff. Ultimately, once the services and businesses have been developed and tourism revenue from the Byway is significant and has been demonstrated, then business and local governmental support for professional and staff services can be sought. Until such time as staff can be funded, consultants working on specific grant projects, staff of partner organizations, and volunteers will provide the team to begin implementing the Byway plan.
The participating groups that have so far shown the most willingness and organizational capability to actively contribute to the development of the Byway have been Monongahela National Forest, Pocahontas County Tourism Commission, Pocahontas County Communications Cooperative, Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation, Historic Beverly Preservation, Randolph County Historical Society, Hackers Creek Pioneer Descendents, Upshur County Historical Society, Weston Historic Landmarks Commission, Gilmer County Historic Landmarks Commission, Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, Wood County Historical and Preservation Society, and Wood County Scenic Byways Coalition. A number of other partners have also contributed, but either have fewer resources available to offer, have focused on a specific project, or have enough higher priorities that their participation in this project to date has been limited. The Monongahela National Forest spans two counties, and they also manage many of the intrinsic resources in the eastern section of the Byway.
Increasing the degree of participation of key county agencies such as Convention & Visitors Bureaus, County Development Authorities, and County Commissions, as well as closer cooperation with Chambers of Commerce and various tourism development efforts will greatly strengthen the Alliance.
Much of the initial focus of the SPTA was on the historic resources, but for the Byway it is important to include the natural, scenic, and outdoor recreation opportunities as well. Involvement of outdoor interest groups such as the Highland Trails Foundation and the Nature Conservancy can provide new opportunities and outlooks.
Continued strong participation and action by the partnership organizations will be essential for the success of the Byway. Partners will remain responsible for their specific projects, and for providing continued resources and participation. In addition, by keeping the partners actively involved, individual buy-in and sense of ownership is increased, which helps maintain participation, cooperation, and stewardship.
In all counties, building more grassroots awareness and support is essential, including contacts, involvement, and activities with existing community organizations including civic groups, schools, and churches, involvement with and support from local governments, and encouraging involvement in Byway projects and activities. This participation is not only important from an administrative viewpoint, but also in support of the stewardship goals. By developing broad-based grassroots community involvement, the Byway can increase its available resources and manpower, build citizen support, and contribute to community development, local pride, and enhanced quality of life. It is essential that the Byway serve the local citizens as well as the tourists, and developing broad-based participation and stewardship is the most important avenue toward this goal.
Assignment of responsibilities
The Board of Directors will be responsible for setting policy, fundraising, and overseeing practical administration. The Board will work with and direct the staff in coordination and development of projects and ongoing management of the Byway.
The Board and Staff, working with the partners, will develop an annual workplan, and will review and report on project progress and workplan accomplishments annually.
The staff will coordinate meetings and communications, carry out those projects directly attributable to the Byway organization, and coordinate the various other projects being undertaken by different partners under this plan. The administrative functions that will be necessary will include:
Coordination and sharing information such as scheduling and coordination of meetings; communications between partners and projects; dissemination of minutes, reports, and newsletters; carrying out and keeping track of progress of development projects; gathering input from and communicating progress to members and stakeholders; public relations, press contacts, and outreach to the public; answering inquiries from the public and potential tourists;
Financial and project accountability including coordination with DOT and other state agencies; grant administration and financial accounting for organization funds; coordinating information on financial activities of Byway partners;
Long-range marketing including development and implementation of an extensive professional marketing plan for promotion and marketing both in-state and out of state; tracking visitation, economic impact, evaluations, and results; and assisting the Board in seeking out funding sources for development and sustained operations of the entire Byway effort.
If funding for staff is inadequate for these tasks, then substantially more participation in administrative functions will be needed from the Board and from partner organizations to ensure that needed tasks can be completed.
Partner organizations will take responsibility for developing and carrying out specific projects listed in the action plan, with support and coordination between projects from the Byway organization. It will not be the responsibility of the SPTA Board or staff to carry out individual projects, except those that are separately and individually assigned there. Partners will also be essential in providing financial and manpower support and matching funds to make the Byway organization possible.
In order for this partnership approach to function, it is essential that a number of partners be willing to make substantial contributions, and to continue to do so over time. The Byway organization is composed primarily of its partners, and the work will need to be shared by all.
The SPTA membership will provide the grassroots support for the Byway projects; information flow to the management about needs, problems, and successes; and a pool of potential donors, volunteers, and stewards of the Byway resources. All members will be encouraged to think of the Byway as their resource, and to participate in the projects in a variety of ways. The benefits of the Byway will accrue to all the members and the entire community, and their participation will bring the Byway vision to life.
The SPTA Byway staff and board will coordinate all financial administration for the Byway in a professional and accountable manner. Those grants, memberships, donations, and revenues that come directly to the Byway will be held and administered by the Byway organization. The individual partner responsible for each project funded through or by partner organizations will administer the grants for their own specific projects. All cooperating partners who are working on projects will send an annual (or more often) accounting of their income, expenses, progress, visitation tracking and evaluation for their Byway projects to the Byway organization, so that a combined accounting of Byway activity can be compiled and made available to the Byway partners.
9-3) Funding Sources
Initial start-up funding may be available from grants, but for long-term sustainability the SPTA as the Byway coordinating organization will need dependable on-going sources of support. An inherent difficulty in the partnership approach is that to the extent that businesses and attractions are operated by partners rather than the Byway organization, those partners will be the ones receiving the revenues, even though those revenues are increased and in part derived because of the coordinating and marketing work of the Byway. This is compounded by many of the attractions being free to visitors, although they still are costly to maintain. Thus it will be necessary either to find ways to derive direct revenue from the Byway and its attractions to maintain the Byway services; or have the commitment from the revenue-generating partners that they are willing to support the Byway efforts that they are benefiting from.
Some of the types of potential funding are discussed here. Some are applicable for operations of the Byway organization, others for partners pursuing specific projects. Most are appropriate or targeted for only specific types of activities.
Federal or State Government grants
Scenic Byway grants are Federal transportation funds administered through the West Virginia Department of Transportation. They can offer significant targeted start-up funding for Byway CMP and implementation. The grants associated with the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway to date are:
Corridor Management Plan and Implementation (Randolph County Development Authority fiscal agent). $60,000 total project has funded CMP development and product for initial Byway section, public outreach and planning associated with the CMP, interpretation development for audio history project, and interpretive signs along Byway in Pocahontas and Randolph Counties.
Interpretive Materials Grant (Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation fiscal agent) $30,000 total project. Funded oral history collection, audio history development and artwork, improvements and accessibility to Visitor Center in Beverly. (complete)
Corridor Management Plan Extension (Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation fiscal agent) $24,000 total project. Complete CMP for whole Byway including western section, maps and marketing plan.
Beverly Bank and Courthouse Visitor Center (Historic Beverly Preservation) Purchase and rehabilitation of Beverly Bank and Randolph County Courthouse for use as Byway Visitor Center
Brochure and Web Page (Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance) $40,000 Development of high-quality brochure for the Byway, and a web page, including maps for use in these materials.
Projects associated with a Scenic Byway may also be eligible for some other types of transportation funding.
State grants are available for specific types of projects, such as building preservation from the WV Historic Preservation Office; arts and performance grants from the Arts and Humanities Division; and advertising grants from Department of Tourism. Direct state appropriations or Fairs and Festivals funding can also be possibilities.
Many federal programs or grants can be applicable to different projects and some have already been used on the Turnpike, such as American Battlefield Protection Program – National Park Service funding for Civil War battlefields and USDA Forest Service cooperative projects. Further research on applicable grants for different types of projects is needed both on a state and federal level.
Non-profit and foundation grants
Foundations supportive of Civil War and historic preservation; tourism development; community economic development; and those who have specific interests in West Virginia are prime candidates for grant requests. Use of foundation grants to match other funding or encourage challenge donations can often be helpful.
Local government sources
Local revenues are often limited or already allocated to current organizations. Working along with established agencies and through existing channels is the best way to get the Byway locally involved and supported.
Corporate contributions and sponsorships
Support from businesses who benefit, directly or indirectly, from the Byway offers a good opportunity for long-term funding support. The obvious methods such as using co-operative advertising, and memberships, donations and sponsorships from Byway businesses will help provide some operating funds. Seeking out creative opportunities such as development of franchises, finding new capital investment, and other types of corporate involvement can assist the Byway in becoming self-sustaining for the long term.
Member donations and local organization support will be essential both as revenue and in maintaining member involvement. Careful fostering of large donors deserves attention, as well as well-planned fundraising activities. Care will need to be taken that the Byway organization not become a competitor to existing partner organizations who also look to local sources for fundraising. Cooperation, not competition, will be key.
Developing of earned income from Byway revenues will be a significant component in long-term sustainability. This can include sales of gift and interpretive items, admissions fees, events, and business receipts. Coordination with partner organizations to ensure that an appropriate share of Byway revenues goes toward Byway operations will be important.
Chapter 10 -- Expanding the Byway
The historic Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike connected the upper Shenandoah Valley of Virginia at Staunton with the Ohio River at Parkersburg. While the initial nomination of the SPT Byway was specific to the sections of the Turnpike in Pocahontas and Randolph Counties of West Virginia the vision has always included working towards a much more comprehensive treatment of the Turnpike and the region it served. By furthering outreach both across the geographic areas traversed by the turnpike, and linking with other area attractions that share common themes, a much more extensive, and exciting, tourism experience can be created.
10-1) Extending along the Turnpike
Extending the Byway west to Parkersburg was nominated by the SPTA and by local leaders in the western counties. Two separate nominations – one for Randolph County beyond Beverly, Upshur, Lewis, and Gilmer Counties; and one for Ritchie, Wirt, and Wood Counties -- were approved by the West Virginia Byways program in summer of 2000. This corridor management plan draft includes the resources and input by stakeholders of Byway all across West Virginia.
The entire Byway will be operated as one entity, with local contacts and partnership groups in each county or region. With approval from the state Byway coordinator, the original CMP for the initial Byway section has been adapted here to include the local resources and issues from all areas of the Byway, and thus avoiding the duplication of multiple CMPs. Only one formal organization will be needed, with appropriate representation from each area, and the expertise, resources, and marketing efforts will be available to all. Continued strong encouragement of local partnerships, grassroots activities, and regional groups working on development in their locales would remain essential, with community coordinators for each region assuring communication and providing assistance.
10-2) Creating partnership with Virginia section of the Turnpike
The Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike continues from the current end of the Byway at the West Virginia/Virginia state line, east along the Turnpike route through Monterey, Virginia, including the Civil War site at McDowell, and into Staunton. The Museum for American Frontier Culture in Staunton, a well-developed living history site that interprets early frontier culture up until the time of the building of the turnpike, can provide a key entry point for the tour. Beginning the Turnpike trail at its source in Staunton, and moving westward with the Pike into West Virginia, will not only add to the context of the Pike story, but will encourage movement of tourists along the route.
There are numerous other related historic sites in Staunton and along the turnpike. Additionally, the Civil War site at McDowell gives thematic continuity with the West Virginia Civil War sites, and both historically and geographically is the pivotal connection between the 1861 Mountain Campaign sites and the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign site.
Much work has already been done concerning the Turnpike in Virginia, including an impressive study of preservation strategies by the Valley Conservation Council, and a major project of trails and interpretation in McDowell County. In addition, McDowell battlefield is included in the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Heritage Area. McDowell is also included on the Virginia Civil War Trail, as is a sign interpreting Camp Allegheny in West Virginia. The original Turnpike passes through George Washington National Forest and some sites are being preserves and signed by the U. S. Forest Service which is a major potential partner in Virginia.
The opportunities for working in conjunction with these efforts are tremendous. By drawing upon the larger population and travel numbers in Virginia, travelers along I 81 at Staunton, and those already attracted to the Civil War sites in Virginia, we can encourage many of those visitors to continue further into West Virginia and offer them a unique experience.
Virginia and West Virginia promoters of the Turnpike can work together in dissemination of information, brochures, maps, and promotional materials; continuity in directions and interpretation; develop common logos and identity; and cooperative marketing. Designation of the Virginia sections of the Turnpike as Scenic Byway would greatly enhance this cooperation and benefit both states.
Nomination of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike as a National Scenic Byway is highly recommended. The historic qualities of this route had national significance in the settlement of the region; and major sections of the route retain exceptional integrity of their intrinsic quality resources. This designation would greatly strengthen the promotional appeal and the funding opportunities for the Byway. The future potential of extending the National Scenic Byway the entire length of the historic roadway through both states would be clear.
10-3) Expanding thematically
The Civil War theme of this initial section of the Byway is a logical extension both thematically and for tourism interest. The Civil War First Campaign is nationally significant: Gen. George McClellan gained fame here and was promoted to lead the Federal Army of the Potomac, Gen. Robert S. Garnett was the first general killed in the war, and control of western Virginia led to formation of a new state. A number of Civil War sites related to this campaign are located north of the Turnpike in Belington (Laurel Hill) and Philippi (Battle of Philippi and Covered Bridge) along the historic Beverly–Fairmont Turnpike and at Parsons (Corrick’s Ford). Additionally there are sites related to the Cheat Summit portion of the campaign along the historic Huttonsville-Huntersville Turnpike just south of the SPT, including Elkwater, Mingo Flats, and Valley Mountain.
Both Laurel Hill and Philippi have strong preservation and development efforts underway, and including coordination of interpretation and marketing with these sites is crucial. Supporting further preservation, development, and interpretation that includes the other sites would also contribute to the Byway story. Active participation in the development of the First Campaign Civil War Trail, and other projects of the statewide Civil War Task Forces, will enable the Turnpike Civil War resources to be coordinated with other efforts to develop this important theme.
Railroad and lumbering history offers another theme that connects the Byway with other area sites. The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is coordinating forest heritage themed tourism throughout the highlands region of West Virginia and western Maryland. Cass Railroad State Park in Pocahontas County, towns such as Durbin and Mill Creek, and the Railyard development in Elkins are all representative of the lumbering and railroad era. Early settlement history is also rich along the western sections of the Turnpike, and a unique interpretive opportunity for Native American history is available at Seneca Rocks.
Whenever possible, packaging of heritage resources should be coordinated across geographic and thematic lines, including cross-promotiona, and making information on one project accessible to those involved with another. Many heritage tourists will be interested in more than one period of history or type of site, and most from out of town will have no concern with where one county meets another. A coordinated package that could promote the region for heritage tourists would be most desirable, and a heritage corridor, related to but not limited to the turnpikes, may some day provide a framework for that presentation. Such a concept can also be expanded to link up with other initiatives, such as cultural heritage events and festivals, and linkage of lumbering history with forest recreation. By presenting multi-county regions, visitors to one area would be made aware of areas of interest around them, thus offering a more varied experience and encouraging longer stays. Then the tourist, once "hooked," could focus on more detailed information on the sites and activities which appeal to them most.
The concepts and partnerships that are being developed in the Byway project can serve as a basis for cooperation across agencies and geographic lines. By actively participating in the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, in the highlands region; Frontiers to Mountaineers in the central region; and other heritage area projects that are appropriate for Byway resources, we can offer richer interpretation and context, while expanding the reach of our promotion. The principles of partnerships, coordinated planning and promotion, and use of heritage resources as a springboard for appropriate development for the region can provide exciting benefits and progress for our communities.
In developing the Byway, we can view our efforts as more than merely the promotion of a specific roadway. Instead we look at the themes and stories that the roadway illustrates, and how it helps to tell the unique stories of our region, and to make all of those exciting stories come alive for our citizens and our visitors.
10-4) Networking Statewide
Civil War Discovery Trail and West Virginia Civil War Task Force. A statewide Civil War Task Force is active under the leadership of the state Division of Tourism, to coordinate and market Civil War sites throughout the state. The initial job of the Task Force was to identify sites and initiate the state program for the national Civil War Discovery Trail of the Civil War Trust (now Civil War Preservation Trust). Fifteen West Virginia sites were initially identified and named to this Trail, including the First Campaign sites of Philippi, Rich Mountain, Cheat Summit, and Camp Allegheny. Beverly and Camp Bartow have since been added to this trail. The Tourism office, in cooperation with the Task Force, has developed a statewide Civil War brochure that identifies these, as well as some additional, sites. With additional grant funding, the CW Task Force is working on Civil War Trail signage for the First Campaign, including many of the SPT Civil War sites. These interpretive signs are being coordinated with the Byway interpretive signs.
Cultural Heritage Tourism Program. Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, in partnership with Main Street West Virginia, is currently operating an initiative, funded in part by the Benedum Foundation with matching state funds, to develop a statewide West Virginia Cultural Heritage Tourism program. The project provides technical assistance, partnerships on a variety of joint projects, and work toward developing a long term Cultural Heritage Tourism Program. SPTA has been involved in these efforts throughout their development.
These statewide efforts provide excellent opportunities to reinforce and extend the efforts of the SPTA. They also provide frameworks for our stated goal of extending our networking efforts beyond the immediate region of the initial Alliance efforts. The Alliance should take every opportunity to work with and encourage such networking and joint marketing efforts, not only for Civil War sites, but also for other heritage sites and heritage and cultural tourism opportunities as well.
Chapter 11 – Marketing the Byway
The art and science of marketing includes product development, pricing, and promotion, all with targeted customers in mind. The stakeholders involved in the creation of the SPT Scenic Byway have the opportunity to link existing attractions and facilities, and to conceive and build whatever may be lacking to create a complex of attractions and services that as a whole or separately can attract and satisfy a broad range of consumers.
One of the goals must be not only to satisfy, but also to exceed expectations, to delight the customer. Planning for phased, controlled quality development through investment is key to achieving the goal.
The final measure of marketing effectiveness is net sales— new and repeat visitors to the scenic byway. If they come, they will spend money. The longer they stay, the more they spend. The better and more extensive the attractions, the longer they will stay. The creation of strategies that affect the number and type of visitors in the most cost-effective way is called strategic marketing.
The basic formula for marketing any product involves determining
· Who are the most likely customers?
· Where do you find them in the greatest numbers?
· What must the product deliver to satisfy and stimulate repeat visits, or recommendations?
· How can the seller most effectively communicate with the buyer?
The same principles apply in selling ideas, which is the task at hand for proponents of the SPT Alliance. The successful internal marketing of concepts to alliance members and the scenic byway communities can make the entire enterprise more successful for everyone in a shorter time frame.
11-1) Identifying Markets
Who—what markets—does the SPT Alliance want to cultivate? This is the time to decide whom to invite, and begin creating facilities to serve them.
Who Are These Potential Visitors, and What Do They Want?
From our evaluations of current and potential visitors as discussed in Chapter 7, we can look at information about several different types of visitors – scenic byways drivers; heritage and cultural tourists; ecotourists and outdoor recreation tourists; and regional residents and their guests.
Scenic Byways drivers
Several studies have been compiled on who drives scenic byways, why, and their spending behavior. A 1995 study of byway visitors in Iowa found most visitors were in-state retirees who spent an average of $104 per auto per day.  The 1999 study of Kansas scenic byway users indicates that most of their travelers are Baby Boomers (age 45-65) and still employed, and the average size of their party was four, which spent a total of approximately $50 per party.
Pleasure Drivers are the broadest, most obvious market likely to be interested in the scenic byway. According to the results of the “Outdoor Recreation in America” report, pleasure drivers are above average in terms of being satisfied with their family life, friends, career choices, success, health and fitness, quality of leisure activities, and life in general. They also recorded average satisfaction levels with the amount and quality of recreational activities available to them. In short, they are happy people, and tend to react to experiences positively.
Pleasure drivers are very likely to seek road experiences that will satisfy their desires for aesthetics, drama (evocation of history and nostalgia), cultural adventure, and entertainment. Once they become aware of scenic byways, they sometimes and perhaps even often choose a byway over other more direct routes.
For drivers studied in the 1999 Kansas Scenic Byway Visitor’s study, respondents with less than a high school degree were far more likely to use the scenic byway merely as a means to a destination (to visit friends and family) than those respondents with high education levels. People with less education were less likely to indicate their trips were for pleasure driving and more likely to say they were there for viewing the scenery. The only difference may be semantic.
The proportion indicating they were traveling the byway to do something as a family tended to increase as the amount of education increased.
The most popular reasons cited for using scenic byways in a Kansas study were visiting family/friends, viewing scenery, pleasure driving, and visiting historic sites. Other activities cited were shopping, taking photos, to see wildlife, viewing scenery, and visiting museums.
In the 1994 study of Iowa’s four pilot byway routes, 66% of the visitors said the small towns on the route intrigued them, 59% enjoyed shopping, and 77% enjoyed the scenic views. The Iowa scenic byway drivers spent one-third of their total on shopping for gifts and crafts. About a quarter of their total expenditures went for lodging, and just slightly less (23%) was spent on meals and snacks.
Judging from information gathered in these two studies, most drivers on midwestern scenic byways were there largely for the scenery. Two thirds of them also patronized the small towns on the routes, and more than half were interested in historic attractions. The interest in family experiences increased with their level of education.
Heritage and Cultural Tourists
Cultural adventurers desire a distinctly different experience from their usual lifestyle. They will include enthusiasts and scholars focusing on specific aspects of culture and history as well as serious seekers of music, art, crafts and performing arts experiences. But they also include many more visitors who have varying degrees of interest in history and local culture, and want to experience and learn more about the area heritage as a part of their vacation experience. Both of these categories include “heritage tourists,” the focus of a recent Travel Industry of America study. Data from this report indicates that heritage tourists stay longer and spend more than general tourists.
Heritage Tourist General Tourist
Use commercial lodging 56% of trips 42% of trips
Go shopping on trips 45% 33%
Average spending per trip $615 $425 all US travelers
Heritage tourists represent an upscale market of consumers. The kinds of amenities they desire are often what keeps tourism dollars in the local economy. For instance, the heritage tourist is more likely to stay overnight in a town's own charming bed-and-breakfast inn rather than the franchise hotel near the interstate. In addition, the typical heritage tourist requires minimal infrastructure, and they are more sensitive to the need to support local heritage sites. Cultural Resource specialist Gail Dexter Lord emphasizes trends in heritage tourism such as growing influence of the internet and special events, increase in younger and more diverse cultural tourists, and growing popularity of short “get-away” trips in today’s busy modern life. She adds “opportunities must be considered in the context of expectations held by the cultural tourist; for example, a desire for -- and expectation of -- experiences rather than objects, authenticity rather than fabrication, and the desire to contribute to a sustainable environment.” 
A Lou Harris poll in the early 1990s found that "visiting cultural, historical and archeological treasures” was a significant motivation in less than a third of travelers in the 1980s, but in the 90s it had increased to over half. “To understand culture” as a travel motive increased from less than half to over 88%. This indicates a change in goals from "escapism" to "enrichment" as a primary goal for tourism. 
Heritage tourists are correlated with higher education levels, an older population with higher disposable income (peak of interest in the 45 to 65 age groups), and an increase in the role of women, with a stronger interest in cultural activities, in controlling income and making family travel decisions.
In attracting and planning for cultural tourists we need to consider these trends:
· Increase in short, get-away trips with people seeking multiple activities in short trips
· Addition of younger gen-x tourists who are independent, mobile, educated, and looking for authenticity and adventure.
· Concern about the environment and preservation among highly educated heritage, cultural, and ecotourists offer opportunities to promote preservation and sustainability of resources.
· Visitors seeking for meaning that can be found in authentic experiences of nature, heritage and culture, rather than a manufactured theme park.
· Yet, theme parks have created high expectations that affect what tourists look for on their travels.
· Increasing importance of the Internet in tourism planning and marketing.
Nature enthusiasts, ecotourists, and outdoor recreationists
Ecotourism is travel by environmentally minded tourists who focus on nature and conservation. Just as many heritage tourists value the local culture, ecotourists value conservation of the natural environment and sustained well being of local residents. Related groups include more traditional outdoorsmen and outdoor recreationists. These outdoor tourism groups include:
· Wilderness and primitive campers who value undisturbed nature and unique ecosystems
· Wildlife and botany hobbyists looking for birds, wildlife, interesting plants and flowers
· Traditional outdoor enthusiasts -- hunters, fishers, power boaters and water skiers.
· Hikers, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, horseback riders who want quality trails in an undeveloped environment
· Active outdoor sports enthusiasts often in search of an adrenaline charge such as rafters, canoers, rock climbers, cavers
· High service outdoor adventurers such as skiers who like outdoor sport and recreation but demand services such as lifts, shuttles, catered meals, knowledgeable guides, and creature comforts
All of these groups are well represented in the Byway area, with major ski resorts in the same and adjoining counties, vast well-established hiking, hunting and fishing lands on the Monongahela National Forest as well as wilderness areas, and a number of specific adventure activities available in the area such as hiking and mountain bike trails, canoeing, rafting, rock climbing, and caving.
According to a US Travel Data Center study, 8 million American adults have taken one ecotourism trip and almost three million are likely to do so in the next three years. The amount spent by such travelers increases, according to this study, by 15% each year. In a recent study of ecotourism, Pamela Wight found that 77% of the consumers surveyed had already taken a vacation involving nature activities, and of the remaining almost all indicated an interest in such travel. Outdoor tourists were frequent travelers, with high education and income levels, but the trend was also spreading to more diverse markets. Top-ranked activities included casual walking, wildlife viewing, hiking, and water-based activities, with experienced ecotourists being more interested in specific adventure activities, and also more likely to take longer and off-season trips than novices. While many, depending on the activity, would do some camping, there was also interest in mid-range hotel/motels, and especially in more intimate, adventure-type accommodations such as cabins, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts.
Volumes of information on these various travel markets are available through many sources. (See Bibliography) The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) is an excellent place to begin research, followed by associations, specialty publications, and government bulletins such as statistical abstracts of the U.S. Census Bureau. Sources such as D.K. Shiftlett & Associates, which routinely survey the American public to determine travel behavior, provide valuable current information at premium prices. Research should be an important item in the travel marketing budget, as knowledge will be the foundation of any successful marketing program.
Local residents, their guests, and business travelers
For these groups, the Byway is primarily the means to get where they need to go, and the scenic qualities will be a byproduct perhaps less important than convenience and safety of travel. But they will still be a large potential source of visitation to sites and attractions, as an important side-benefit of the local economy. They will also be large consumers of restaurants and staple businesses that will also serve visitors. A resident who is well-informed about the local history, attractions, and services can be a significant avenue to reach visiting friends and family, and a major resource for successful and ultimately extensive word-of-mouth advertising.
Marketing to SPT Byway Visitors
Travelers on the Staunton -- Parkersburg Turnpike Scenic Byway will differ somewhat from those in other areas, but the general characteristics of visitors interested in pleasure and scenic driving, heritage and cultural experiences, ecotourism and outdoor recreation can help us understand what attracts and pleases visitors. West Virginia’s fortunate central location on the populous Eastern Seaboard, and the Staunton -- Parkersburg Turnpike’s proximity to major Interstate highways place the Byway in an excellent position to capture a certain segment of market share based on location alone.
Businesses oriented toward travel and tourism along the SPT Scenic Byway can expect a wide variety of visitors, ranging from people merely using the road to reach a destination, to people who have chosen the road in quest of aesthetic pleasure, cultural, and outdoor experience. This latter group and its several subsets are the real market that will expect services and attractions, and will also yield the highest return on marketing investment.
Potential visitors will be attracted by their expectations of the Byway:
· Their expectation of a special scenic experience promised by the designation of “scenic byway” will be an important reason for choosing the route,
· They will be interested in and curious about the region’s history.
· The desirable market’s educational level, usually ranging from some college to post-graduate degrees, tends to increase their curiosity about and acceptance of cultures different from their own. In fact, one purpose of their trip is to discover “something different,” and if they return, some of the motivation will be to “get away” from their own day-to-day reality.
· Other prevalent reasons will be that the drive connects with or enhances a specific travel itinerary based on interest or location (a point of added value), or that
· It can be conveniently accessed in a short period of time, and can be enjoyed in varying periods of time, depending upon the visitors’ interests and availability.
· Factors such as age and primary energy focus are important considerations when considering markets, developing facilities, programs, and communications. Some substantial markets are
· Younger adults, often looking for active adventure activities, or
· Middle-aged adults who may tend to have more interest in cultural and heritage activities.
· Families will want kid-friendly and oriented activities, both educational and recreation. Multiple ages create many challenges and opportunities.
· “Matures,” 60 and older, who don’t travel as often but spend more money and stay longer when they do. Attention to handicapped accessibility and less-strenuous activities becomes more important.
· Well-educated and upscale travelers, both nature and heritage motivated, will expect quality, authenticity, and comfort.
· Less well-educated travelers are traditionally more attracted to traditional recreation like hunting and fishing, but are increasingly open to a broadening variety of experiences. They will want nicely developed and convenient campsites and moderately priced family-style motels.
· Visitors with family who live in the area are an important subset, because they are likely to return repeatedly.
· Group tours will often concentrate on a certain interest or demographic, and in addition have specific requirements both in marketing and attracting tours, and in meeting their needs
As we can see from the previous discussion, most of these broad markets according to activity preference need to be considered in the marketing mix. The Byway will attract:
· Vacationers, “getaway” tourists, and pleasure drivers
· Heritage and cultural tourists
· Ecotourists and outdoor recreationists
· Local residents and those with local contacts
· Motorcoach or Group Travelers
In addition, paying special attention to niche markets of specific interests can attract significant numbers of highly motivated and satisfied visitors with often considerably less marketing costs than targeting the general public. Some of the specific niche markets have already been mentioned, such as
· Civil War buffs, rail and transportation enthusiasts, and other appropriate historical specialties
· Genealogists, scholars and researchers, family reunions
· Antiques and heritage crafts shoppers
· Traditional music, dance, and folklore enthusiasts
· Motorcycle touring enthusiasts
· Mountain bikers, cavers, and other outdoor recreation specialties
· Birders, wildlife, watershed and ecosystem interests
One critical point to consider is that many visitors will come to the area for a particular primary motivation, but the satisfaction and duration of their stay can often be improved by also offering them a variety of experiences. Particularly for the pleasure drivers, for “getaway” travelers wanting to get maximum experience in minimum time, and for families and groups with a variety of interests represented, the multiple types of resources and attractions offered by the Byway will be a major bonus.
Major geographic markets
The SPT Byway is in an ideal geographic position to tap the major metropolitan areas that circle the State of West Virginia. Our relatively near location will appeal to those from nearby cities with limited vacation time to spend. Scenically, it can deliver the experience most drivers will expect. Culturally it offers a different world, typified by relative openness of the people, a spirit of neighborliness not often cultivated in city environments, and a slower pace that can be perceived either as a relief or maddening, depending on the receiver. It is a world many urban adults nostalgically associate with earlier times.
Information from the DKS&A report and statistics from the Randolph County Visitors & Convention Bureau indicate Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania as the top five states of origin of visitors to Pocahontas and Randolph Counties. The next five most likely were Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, New York State, and New Jersey.
Because the scenic byway is a driver’s market, it makes sense to pay particular attention to potential visitors who can easily reach it. Travelers who use Interstates 81, 79, 77, 68 and 64, include concentrated numbers of visitors from metropolitan areas such as Washington D.C./Baltimore, Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Richmond/Charlottesville/Staunton, Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, and Columbus/Akron/Cleveland.
11-2) Reaching the Markets
Communication is everything, and everything communicates; logos, quality of stationery, quality of brochures. The quality of thought and intent in simple news releases. The quality of photographs, their content, and the creation and maintenance of information channels.
The world as we know it is dominated by marketing, which is dominated by information. Consumers are increasingly sophisticated, and sometimes increasingly cynical. Marketers must be psychologists, entertainers, teachers and persuaders, anticipating what their targeted markets think, will think, and might think, and plan accordingly.
Successful marketers are aware of why and how decisions to buy are made. Their marketing communications plans are devised to reach decision-makers and affect their decisions. With so many possible marketing avenues and a limited budget, strategically targeted marketing is essential.
For the past 30 years, West Virginia has been roiling in change. While it continues to lose population and jobs in its traditional economic base of extractive industries, an influx of entrepreneurial energy has formed the foundation of a new tourism industry mostly comprised of small bootstrapping retail and service businesses (excepting ski resorts, which require major capital investment).
While the overwhelming majority of America’s World War II generation and their children, the Baby Boomers, may have established opinions of what West Virginia is and who West Virginians are primed by images portrayed in the media, Generations X and Y are more familiar with the state in terms of what it offers in outdoor recreation. Today’s marketers of West Virginia and its various regions must take care not to inadvertently infect new generations of tourists with old stereotypes. A good defense against that possibility is awareness of West Virginia’s strengths and weaknesses, its opportunities and threats to realizing its potential. Excellence in design, which includes planning and execution, is central to successful marketing. It will result in the continuing re-creation of West Virginia’s image, which in turn will result in more visitations.
Once a body of promotable products have been developed and/or packaged—attractions, events and merchandise—they may be launched through a program of marketing communications.
11-3) Elements of Marketing Communications
· Logo line, or tag line (slogan)
· Stationery (business cards, letter head, envelopes, labels)
Promotional Materials and Channels
· Brochures, SPT general and specific attractions
· Rack cards for broad distribution
· Maps (May be part of brochure, but useful also as a stand-alone piece)
· Professional photography stock
· Press kit folders
· Audio-Visuals such as presentations on cassette tape or CD
Mass Communications Media
· Highway signs
· Radio programs and commercials
· Television programs and commercials
· Newspaper articles and advertisements
· Magazine articles and advertisements
· Internet websites, advertising, networking
Networking and Alliance Building
· Membership in key organizations and associations.
· Linking and partnering with agencies and industry colleagues.
Marketing Through Media Relations
The gatekeepers of public opinion—newspaper editors and staff, magazine editors and writers, and broadcasters—are deluged with information from promoters of all kinds. They are the arbiters and sometimes the creators of public opinion. How does one place one’s information before them and get noticed? Some answers:
1. Give them something new.
2. Make it timely.
3. Persist, but know when to stop, and how to employ subtlety.
4. Understand their needs and desires, and serve them.
Current marketing theory emphasizes the primary importance of media relations, or getting the word out to the community. Once product awareness is created, advertising strengthens and maintains market share.
A fun idea, an unusual twist on an old hat, or information that indicates or fits into a trend—that’s what it takes to get the attention of the media. The best ideas usually come from the material at hand, but the obvious is too often ignored or unrecognized in its own community. The unique life, work and history of a region will suggest its own events, festivals, and crafts.
News releases, press kits, and carefully planned events that include guest media are the basic elements of media relations. Video news releases and other technologies can increase the reach of messages. Knowledge of local, regional and national media and their various beats contributes to success in media relations.
Advertising in newspapers and magazines pays the media’s bills. It pays for the space in which editors, art directors, staff writers, photographers and freelancers entertain and inform readers, and it pays for the infrastructure to deliver the media. Although it is not often openly “traded” for editorial coverage, it does draw attention to the advertiser not only when it comes to the targeted market, but often within the ranks of the media as well. Advertising dollars should be leveraged in tandem with a media relations program to augment marketing communications. It allows the advertiser to use the purchased space as often and in any way he chooses. Developers of advertising should understand how and when to create image, and what and how to promote to various market segments. Advertisers with small budgets can carefully allocate dollars to maximize coverage.
Television advertising can be very expensive, but careful buys that include cable can make it affordable. Professional production drives the cost of TV up, but for mass audiences such as pleasure drivers, the return on investment may be worth it. Television programs are good for creating image, and could be used to help spread the word about the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike, especially if highly visual material is supplied to producers.
Radio advertising can be extremely effective. Radio is an entertaining companion for many drivers, office workers, laborers, and listeners in a recreation mode. Used properly, it can create a lasting subliminal impression. Radio stations are often creative when it comes to lively and entertaining promotions. Local stations are often cooperative in promoting local activities and events, especially when combined with an advertising campaign. Very few commercial stations provide in-depth programming, but talk shows are good local vehicles for calling attention to issues and events. Underwriting programming on public radio is a very effective image-creating vehicle, targeting well-educated, discerning listeners. Audio or video interpretive programming created for use as interpretive materials for the Turnpike or individual sites can, if of high quality and broad-based appeal, also be broadcast on public radio or television programming
Increased use of the Internet for marketing outreach is a major trend. Clever and energetic netizens can use the web to reach millions of niche enthusiasts and arrange for information to surface in hundreds of search engines. The web has proven to be one of the most effective vehicles for travel and tourism information and sales, and is admirably suited for reaching niche markets. This is particularly important for heritage tourists because of the intersection of Internet users with the high education demographics of cultural tourists. A web-page presence is also readily developed at considerably less investment than required for many other types of media.
Clear, easy to access information is the foremost ingredient. Heritage tourism promoters need quality websites reflecting experience, authenticity, and convenience, and with clear links to state and local tourism websites.
Reaching the crucial niche markets will take imagination and attention to detail more than high cost. The many special interest groups that may revolve around attractions on the Staunton -- Parkersburg Turnpike will likely publish newsletters, hold meetings and conventions, and plan outings. Targeting the most active of these niches with written material, ads, letters, as well as with personal contacts, could result in excellent return on investment. Use of the Internet can be particularly useful here, with creative linkages to bring the SPT Byway to the attention of niche interest enthusiasts.
Networking and Alliance Building
Part of the marketing budget must be allocated toward membership in key organizations and associations, or toward sponsorship of partnering personnel to belong and attend conventions and meetings. Some of these organizations might include
The WV Hospitality and Travel Association
The Travel Industry Association (TIA)
The WV Preservation Alliance
National Scenic Byways organization
Valuable networking opportunities include the annual meetings of these organizations, where important issues and trends are discussed, professional development seminars are presented, and information is shared. Opportunities to host facets of organizations such as The Society of American Travel Writers and Outdoor Writers of America should be explored.
Opportunities to support and participate in the programs of the Pocahontas County Tourism Commission, the Randolph County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Planning and Development Council, the Richie County Historical Society, the County Commission of Richie County, the Wood County Historical Society, the City of Parkersburg, the Wirt County Genealogical and Historical Society, and the Wirt County Development Authority should be enthusiastically embraced. Domestic and international writers’ tours, representation at the conventions of the American Bus Association and the National Tour Bus Association are only part of what these agencies and organizations have to offer. Such partnerships are an exciting win-win both for the Tourism promotion agencies who benefit from the Byway’s many coordinated attractions, and in offering the Byway opportunities for exposure in high-cost but important marketing venues such as writer’s tours, trade shows, and magazine advertising.
Excellent relationships with local promoters such as convention and visitors bureaus is also of paramount importance because they are conduits of news and information about the region as well. They will provide information about the scenic byway to thousands of inquirers, from wholesalers such as receptive operators to retail consumers who respond to their advertising campaigns. Information about the byway should be included in all appropriate publications and presentations of the CVBs.
The West Virginia Division of Tourism is in constant communication with local, regional and national press, disseminating news and information, and devising promotional programs. Personnel there welcome news and information from various entities throughout the state. The photography unit supplies excellent professional photography to such publications as West Virginia, Wild & Wonderful, the official state tourism guide, and to many important media outlets. The Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance should see that the Photo Division maintains current stock of properties and attractions along the route, and attractive photos of the road itself in various seasons. The service is supported through state taxes. Photos from the state tourism division may be duplicated and used at no charge.
The coordinates of marketing communications are frequency, the number of times the audience gets the message, and reach, where the message goes. The marketing director’s job is to understand the dynamics of communication and devise a plan that uses a mix of all the methods mentioned above to create awareness and increase use of the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike Scenic Byway.
11-4) Marketing plan and budget
A plan for one year should be begun six to nine months before the year begins, and should include budgets; names of publications and dates of issues; types of message, and frequency.
In West Virginia, where tourism promotion is usually relegated to public agencies, promotion and advertising budgets are often an afterthought, and sometimes non-existent for individual properties. Owners and managers are often suspicious of advertising vehicles and schemes. The small amounts they often reserve or grudgingly pay on an ad hoc basis are not adequate to place them in competitive positions within the marketplace.
Two standard methods are used to determine a promotion and advertising budget. The task method simply tallies the cost of tasks required to attain marketing objectives. How much will advertising campaigns in the Washington Post cost? How much will production and space for an ad in the annual West Virginia Wild & Wonderful cost? What’s the cost of current directories and research materials for competent media relations? What are the costs involved in mounting a media relations program? Neophytes may blanche at the combined cost of a year’s promotion and advertising, but success in the contemporary American marketplace is determined by sophisticated marketing, which includes consistent investment in promotion.
The second budgeting method is mechanical. The total promotion budget is determined by a percentage of gross sales. Most businesses that subscribe to professional marketing methods start with a standard formula of allocating three to four percent of the total gross sales figure to promotion. Thus, if the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike projects gross sales at $1,397,000, the promotion and advertising budget would come to $55,880 (four percent of the total). Of course, gross sales on the SPT would not accrue to one agency, but would be spread throughout many businesses and services. The question of how to raise $55,880 would pose prospects for innovative cooperation among the many businesses along the turnpike. Carefully constructed public/private partnerships are key to creating vehicles for cooperative promotion.
11-5) Internal marketing
In an enterprise that relies on inter-community cooperation such as the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike Scenic Byway, consistent communication among stakeholders must be institutionalized. Mechanisms that build and measure consensus are essential. Businesses, agencies that serve businesses, public interest groups, and political structures that represent various communities are among the market segments that must serve and be served.
Leadership is often a function of personal persuasiveness and commitment. To create a new tourism entity, especially one that must innovate new systems to form alliances and compete in the greater regional marketplace, will require the same kind of marketing skills required to introduce a new product into any marketplace. The product in this case is an idea. The idea must be presented concretely, with its benefits clearly stated, and its goals and objectives outlined in a simple format. The prospectus then must be “sold” to the constituents. The initial selling process is highly personalized, in the form of one-to-one meetings with business owners, community meetings, dissemination of news and information through newspapers, radio, television, letters and newsletters, and entertaining and informative programs presented in schools, clubs and organizations.
These specific activities are organized as Community Relations, and are an essential component of success for tourism growth on the SPT.
Activities of a community relations director or coordinator include
· coordinating presentation of programs to clubs and organizations,
· writing press releases and working with local media to inform, educate and celebrate aspects of community relating to the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike,
· coordinating regular meetings of stakeholders
· acting as liaison between the Turnpike Alliance and key agencies and institutions, from the State Division of Tourism to the various CVBs and similar agencies involved with the Byway,
· Working with the director and marketing director on integrated long range planning for the Byway.
The task of community relations coordinator can easily provide the interface between each local area and the larger Turnpike efforts. Each section should have a designated and competent community relations coordinator who makes the local contacts, builds constituency and local participation, and delivers the services which the larger Byway organization can provide.
While West Virginia’s national image is improving as its reputation for first-rate outdoor recreation grows, the lingering perception of the state as impoverished and culturally backward may be reinforced and intensified by the presence of dilapidated buildings along the highway, communities that appear shabby and unkempt, facilities that are substandard or lacking in professional presentation, food and products that don’t appeal to contemporary palettes, and a populace including service personnel that is unaware of its fascinating and unique history.
The cultural habits of limited expectations and aspirations coupled with limited exposure to other cultures even within the United States could pose some difficulties in planning for growth and cross-cultural communication.
Continuing education will be an important aspect of internal marketing. Workshops on quality craft production, promotion and sales, training of personnel who deal with the public about local sites and history, and introduction and cross promotion of new trends in hospitality can hasten development of a profitable, popular tourism attraction in the Scenic Byway.
On the other side, by focusing promotion towards visitors who are attracted to historical uniqueness and local culture, and by presenting the culture with respect in all of our marketing and interpretation, visitors will be appreciative of the differences they encounter and will value and return the friendliness that they find. By paying attention to encouraging harmonious relations between tourists and local residents, tourism will be seen in a much more positive light in the communities, and will create more positive experiences for the visitors as well.
Chapter 12 Economic Impact
The Staunton-Parkersburg Scenic Byway will certainly present excellent region-wide economic development opportunities in all counties where the road passes. . Its impact will also be felt in adjoining counties, especially if regional efforts and heritage areas that include the Byway counties, take advantage of opportunities to link their attractions to it, and cross promote.
Future development and reciprocal promotion of the portion of the Turnpike that runs from Staunton, Virginia to the West Virginia border can further increase positive economic impact, as that portion taps the tremendous flow of traffic on U.S. Route 11 and Interstate 81. The many visitors who choose the State of Virginia because of its historic sites can be accessed, and offered another interesting touring option that increases their knowledge and understanding of early American history.
By extending the Byway west to its historic terminal in Parkersburg, we create an attractive connection to Ohio, one of the Potomac Highland’s most lucrative existing markets. Access to the major traffic flows on I-79 at Weston, and on I-77 at Parkersburg make these trail heads a very desirable prospect.
Existing service stations, restaurants, lodging facilities, grocery stores, and retail stores—especially those carrying crafts and items with a strong regional identity, will see a definite increase in sales accompanying an increase in tourism traffic along the by-way. Demand for services not yet available in these regions could result in expansion or creation of new businesses, which also stimulates the existing economy. Businesses based entirely on tourism such as the Durbin & Greenbrier train, and those new shops and service businesses in the Town of Durbin have a major stake in the successful promotion of the SPT Byway.
Because of its close proximity to the Byway, the City of Elkins also stands to increase tourism receipts through the successful marketing of the historic route. The city’s lodging facilities, antique stores and craft shops, retail businesses that offer alternative goods, and a wide variety of restaurants make it an easily accessed oasis for travelers on the byway. Also, the availability of creative resources such as the acting troupe and playwrights of Elkins’ Old Brick Theater make the creation of entertainment specifically tailored to travelers interested in history a viable possibility, providing work for professional entertainers and increasing the number of attractions in the region.
The Turnpike Alliance, the not-for-profit entity that administers and promotes the Scenic Byway, will be in a leadership position in creating new models for public/private partnerships, and creating economic alliances that cross county and state lines.
Economic Benefits of Cultural Heritage Tourism
Cultural Heritage Tourism – travel to visit and appreciate local heritage -- is growing at twice the rate of regular travel. According to the Travel Industry Association, this tourist segment will continue to grow as the baby-boomers retire. Cultural Heritage Tourism is based on historic and natural places, traditions, industries, celebrations, experiences, crafts, music and art that portray the diversity and character of a community, region and/or state – the very experiences that the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway will provide. These tourists are more likely to travel to multiple destinations, stay in lodging facilities, eat in restaurants and shop than any other tourist segment. In short, they stay longer, and spend more than the average tourist.
The following statistics indicate the economic opportunities that “Cultural Heritage Tourism” provides West Virginia:
· 81% of all domestic travelers included a cultural activity in their leisure travel in 2002.
· Cultural heritage travelers spend an average of $623 per U.S. trip excluding the cost of transportation versus $457 for other U.S. travelers.
· Sixty-eight percent of the heritage group travel by car and take three or more trips per year.
· 88,000 jobs have resulted from Cultural Heritage Tourism efforts in Pennsylvania
· A Maryland study showed that every dollar for their heritage area effort generates a total of $4.61 in annual, ongoing state and local tax revenues
“Cultural heritage travel is a large and lucrative segment of the travel industry. In 2002, 81% of U.S. adults included at least one cultural, arts, historic or heritage activity totaling 118.1 million adult travelers. Cultural heritage travelers also spend more and stay longer than other travelers, generating more economic benefit. Cultural heritage travelers spend an average of $623 per U.S. trip excluding the cost of transportation versus $457 for other U.S. travelers. Sixty-eight percent of the heritage group travel by car and take three or more trips per year.” (The Historic/Cultural Traveler, Travel Industry Association and Smithsonian Magazine, 2003).
Estimating Economic Impact
A 1997 study on the “Economic Impact of Historic Preservation in West Virginia,” by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research of West Virginia University found evidence of economic impact of heritage tourism in the state, but the study had difficulty determining the extent of that impact because of the lack of development of the industry and poor data collection by sites. The West Virginia Cultural Heritage Tourism program is now working on models to determine economic spending and long-term impacts of increased heritage tourism development in our state. The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway can take advantage of that trend to help determine much more accurate figures on the impact of its efforts.
Starting with overall tourism figures for Pocahontas and Randolph Counties through 1999 and applying models from other similar Byways give results suggestive of the potential economic impact of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway as a heritage tourism generator. As the Byway is improved, and more data is collected over time, we can evolve a more targeted and accurate model to show the actual impacts.
The 1999 DKS&A Report estimates that visitors to the Potomac Highlands spent an average of $67.00 per person, per day.
A California DOT study based on economic impact reports for byways in rural regions all across the United States cites $32,500 per mile as the average annual revenue attributable to a scenic highway. Applying this model to the our approximately 160 mile Byway through eight counties, once it is signed and promoted estimates annual direct tourist revenues of $5,200,000 per year. If the approximate 26.3 miles of backways are calculated, that brings the figure to $6,054,750 per year. Note that this may overestimate impact for rural sections of the Byway without tourism services, since those areas will have few locations at which visitors can spend money.
Using a heritage tourism model of per person expenditures, if strategic marketing of the Scenic Byway results in an approximate 15,000 visitors, the Scenic Byway could reasonably expect gross revenues of $775,800 that year, resulting in the creation of about 17 jobs, and increased local spending of approximately $1,086,120, using a multiplier of 1.40.
What Do People Really Spend in West Virginia?
Sue McGreal, founder and owner of West Virginia Receptive Services in Pocahontas County estimates that at least 120 47-passenger motorcoaches spend part of their multi-day travel itineraries in Pocahontas County. Colleen Stewart, founder and owner of West Virginia Travel Connection in Parkersburg, says motorcoach guests in West Virginia for only one day usually spend an average of $100 to $125 per person. If the motorcoach stays overnight, that figure jumps to at least $300.00 per person, per day. “These figures are realistic for West Virginia, although they are low in comparison to what is spent in other states,” Stewart says. “West Virginia’s travel product is extremely inexpensive in comparison to other states.”
Developers of the scenic byway must bear in mind that while the travel product is extremely inexpensive in comparison to that of surrounding states, visitors also rate satisfaction and value in West Virginia lowest in comparison, according to the DKS&A report.
Decisions about which markets the region chooses to cultivate and how to cultivate them will determine maximum income potential. Traveler expenditure levels depend in large degree upon the quantity and quality of goods, services and attractions available to them, and price is not always the first consideration. A combination of strategic marketing and investment can lay the foundation for a competitive, profitable tourism industry along the Byway.
Chapter 13 – Strategic Plan
Following are objectives and strategies linked to the SPTA goals. These will lead to specific action steps for development of the Byway. The priorities and activity under each strategy will vary depending upon the priorities and capacity of partner organizations, funding and resources available, and successful completion of successive steps. Additional actions, and even changes in objectives and strategies, will be needed over time based on progress and emerging needs of the Byway. Thus this “plan” will change and grow as the development of the Byway progresses. This is a living document, and will be reviewed and updated periodically by the SPTA Board.
At the time of this writing (December 2004) the following are the identified top priorities for the SPTA Byway organization.
1) Seek National Scenic Byway designation
2) Develop web page including both interpretive and visitor information.
3) Develop a whole Byway brochure.
4) Support partners developing Byway facilities, including interpretive, visitor information, and research facilities. Those currently in process or discussion include Beverly Heritage Center, Weston State Hospital, and developing or improving research facilities in Beverly (Logan House), Buckhannon (Historical Society), and Weston (Hackers Creek Library).
5) Develop interpretive wayside signage for the remainder of the Byway to complete the product begun for the initial section.
6) Develop oral history collection and audio history product for the remainder of the Byway to complete the product begun for the initial section.
Goal I -- Identify and protect resources
Identify our intrinsic quality resources (historic, archaeological, cultural, natural, scenic, and outdoor recreation) and work to conserve, protect, and restore them.
Objective A -- Continue to identify, survey, and recognize intrinsic quality resources.
Strategy 1) Keep updated comprehensive lists of resources in the region.
Strategy 2) Do detailed resource surveys as appropriate.
Strategy 3) Nominate sites to the National Register as appropriate.
Objective B -- Acquire and protect significant resources.
Strategy 1) Encourage acquisition of significant properties by sympathetic public, non-profit, and private owners.
Strategy 2) Encourage easements, covenants, and other protection tools for significant properties.
Strategy 3) Use public awareness and education strategies to promote preservation.
Objective C -- Restore and rehabilitate historic properties.
Strategy 1) Restore or rehabilitate historic properties owned by partners for use as Byway attractions and services.
Strategy 2) Encourage private and public rehabilitation of historic buildings by supplying preservation information, support, and recognition.
Objective D -- Conserve or restore endangered or damaged natural resources or ecosystems.
Strategy 1) Work with natural resource conservation groups to protect and restore endangered natural areas.
Goal II -- Interpret and enhance resources.
Provide interpretation and education about our intrinsic resources, and appropriately develop them for visitation in ways that value authenticity, quality, and respect for the resource and the community.
Objective A -- Implement interpretation of the Byway.
Strategy 1) Create written materials including Byway overview brochure and driving tour identifying sites along the Byway.
Strategy 2) Design interpretive signage.
Strategy 3) Implement Multi Media events and products, such as web site and audio history.
Strategy 4) Identify and implement Visitor Centers, in cooperation with partners. Beverly (Beverly Heritage Center), Weston, Parkersburg as primary locations.
Strategy 5) Provide archives and research facilities in cooperation with partners. Beverly (Logan House), Weston (Hacker’s Creek), Buckhannon, Parkersburg
Objective B – Improve interpretation for individual sites and themes.
Strategy 1) Work in close partnership with individual sites to enhance their interpretation and include SPTA themes. Partner sites include (but are not limited to) Camp Allegheny, Durbin, Cheat Summit Fort, Beverly, Rich Mountain, Glass Museum, Weston State Hospital, Oil and Gas Museum, and Blennerhassett Museum.
Strategy 2) Work in close partnership with other heritage initiatives to enhance thematic interpretation including SPTA themes. Heritage theme topics include (but are not limited to) early settlement; transportation including building of Turnpike, bridges, and railroads; Civil War; slavery, the slave trade, and Underground Railroad; Appalachian culture; industrial revolution in West Virginia including railroads, lumbering, mining, and oil and gas industries; conservation including formation of National Forests and CCC; depression era and changing economies of twentieth-century.
Strategy 3) Further interpretive signage.
Strategy 4) Further site brochures and written materials.
Strategy 5) Further exhibits and visitor centers interpreting sites and themes.
Strategy 6) Further multi-media interpretation including electronic, audio, and video.
Strategy 7) Develop capacity for in-person interpretation, including first person, reenactments, and thematic tours.
Objective C -- Develop additional sites for public access.
Strategy 1) Work to develop access, management, and interpretation of additional significant sites. Potential sites that may be developed in the future may include Traveler’s Repose / Camp Bartow, Burner house, Tygart’s Valley Homesteads, Mt. Iser, Farnsworth House, Richie Mines Wildlife Management Area.
Strategy 2) Work with private owners who may wish to develop their property for public access, including possibility of easements or management agreements.
Strategy 3) Work with willing sellers to purchase key sites that can be developed for interpreted visitation.
Objective D – Implement new Festivals and special events and support existing ones.
Strategy 1) Continue and improve turnpike connection with existing periodic events.
Strategy 2) Orchestrate series of events to draw attention to Byway.
Strategy 3) Support existing and new events for sustained regularity as Turnpike attractions.
Objective E -- Involve schools.
Strategy 1) Develop and implement local history school curriculums.
Strategy 2) Encourage field trips.
Strategy 3) Involve schools and youth groups in site improvement projects.
Objective F -- Develop more outdoor recreation.
Strategy 1) Develop new turnpike related hiking trails.
Strategy 2) Develop targeted brochures, such as birding, watchable wildlife, etc.
Strategy 3) Encourage and market existing and new outfitters, guides, recreation businesses and attractions.
Strategy 4) Encourage the development of recreational fishing for the diverse variety of species existing along the Turnpike.
V. Goal III -- Promote appropriate tourism.
Plan for and encourage tourists who are attracted by the resources the Byway offers to visit the Byway and our communities. Develop tourism services and businesses that will provide jobs and community economic development. Provide cooperative promotion and marketing of the Turnpike as a heritage tourism destination. Offer an authentic, quality, and positive experience for visitors and the community.
Objective A -- Develop directional and welcome signage.
Strategy 1) Develop Byway and DOT signage
Strategy 2) Develop supplemental signage and logo use.
Strategy 3) Provide gateways, waysides, and sites directional signage.
Objective B -- Improve tourism services.
Strategy 1) Encourage more variety and high quality restaurants.
Strategy 2) Encourage more variety and high quality lodging.
Strategy 3) Encourage more variety/quality of crafts, antiques, gift shops.
Strategy 4) Provide traveler’s facilities, such as waysides, restrooms, and parking.
Strategy 5) Provide hospitality training.
Strategy 6) Encourage or provide business training and support services for tourism businesses.
Objective C – Improve Marketing and promotion.
Strategy 1) Develop and implement public relations plan.
Strategy 2) Develop and implement marketing plan when products are in place.
Strategy 2) Develop successive marketing plans for each year’s promotion.
Goal IV-- Encourage Involvement and stewardship.
Promote constituency and grassroots involvement that will encourage pride and stewardship. Utilize collaborative partnerships to effectively work together to bring the Turnpike vision alive.
Objective A -- Develop A Management Entity.
Strategy 1) Establish and
maintain an organization.
Strategy 2) Fund the staff and office.
Strategy 3) Work towards sustainability.
Objective B -- Improve public awareness.
Strategy 1) Improve press coverage
Strategy 2) Keep our signs up and in repair.
Strategy 3) Publicize events.
Objective C -- Build public participation.
Strategy 1) Build membership involvement.
Strategy 2) Publish newsletters.
Strategy 3) Hold meetings.
Strategy 4) Work with civic and community groups to increase visibility and foster stewardship.
Strategy 5) Collaborate and cross-promote with other local and regional groups with compatible missions, especially on cooperative heritage tourism strategies.
Strategy 6) Keep up personal contacts with businesses and civic groups
 “West Virginia: 1998 DKS&A Domestic Travel Report,” prepared for West Virginia Tourism, D. K. Shifflet & Associates, Ltd, Aug. 1999
 “A Look at Iowa Scenic Byways Program,” Davidson-Peterson Associates and David L. Dahlquist Associates for the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Division of Tourism, 1995.
 “Visitor Survey: Economic Impact of Kansas Scenic Byway Designation on the Flint Hills Scenic Byway Communities,” Kansas Scenic Byways Program, Kansas Department of Transportation, Bucher, Willis & Ratliff Corporation, May 1999.
 “Visitor Survey: Economic Impact of Kansas Scenic Byway Designation,” May 1999, p. 22
 Keynote Presentation Wisconsin Heritage Tourism Conference Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin September 17, 1999, http://www.lord.ca/thepower.htm, updated 2/02/00
 Lou Harris, 1994
 North American Ecotourists: Market Profile and Trip Characteristics by Pamela A. Wight, Journal of Travel Research, Spring 1996; North American Ecotourism Markets: Motivations, Preferences, and Destinations by Pamela A. Wight, Journal of Travel Research, Summer 1996
 The Historic/Cultural Traveler, Travel Industry Association and Smithsonian Magazine, 2003.