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The Coal Heritage Trail

Leaving Richlands, VA in Tazewell County, the trail runs for 8 mi. along Rt. 67 to the top of the mtn. where it bears left toward Whitewood. There it follows Rt. 635 8.6 mi. to the Whitewood area. The trail passes mining operations, railroad trestles and the location of the future Buchanan County Tourist Train. A hike along the railroad tracks here will take you across a small railroad bridge to your left and past abandoned mine areas. At the intersection of Rt. 635 & Rt. 638 the trail turns left onto Rt. 638 toward the tiny mining community of Whitewood. The trail continues 2.4 miles where it makes a right turn onto Rt.628(Loggy Bottom Rd.). The trail continues 3.6 mi. on Rt. 628 passing reclaimed strip mine sites along the valley below. At the intersection of Rt. 628 & Rt. 639 the trail makes a left onto Rt. 639 along the scenic ridge of Compton Mtn. Rt. 639 passes the Mtn. Top Golf Course driveway which is to the right. This short driveway leads to a golf course located on a reclaimed strip mine site. It is worth the time to stop and see how the people of Buchanan County utilize reclaimed strip mine sites.

At the next intersection, a left on Rt. 83 (Slate Creek) will take you 1.5 mi. to an intersection with Rt. 640 (Hale Creek). Turn left here across a small concrete bridge and continue a few yards to an intersection with Rt. 641 (Patterson). Take a slight right and continue 5.1 mi. along this road. You will pass many reclaimed mine sites. At the intersection with Rt. 638(Dismal) the trail turns right. Just .2 mi. ahead on the left is a huge coal stockpile where coal is stored for future use.

The trail then continues on Rt. 638 (Dismal) 3.1 mi. to Virginia Pocahontas Island Creek Mine #l.This mine is no longer in production and offers views of the above ground layout of a large underground mine.
Within .6 mi the trail enters the Jewell Coal & CokeQewell Smokeless) Coal Plant area.The beltway over the road carries coal. The loading dock is to the left and the Coke Ovens are below the road.
Rt. 638 will then lead to an intersection with Rt. 460, There take a right onto Rt. 460 (four lane highway). This road continues 3.4 mi. following the railroad and passing many of the coke plant offices and coal cars loaded with coke. At the traffic light at Vansant, VA you will see VA Pocahontas Mine #3 to your left. There are areas to pull-off along this stretch of highway.

The trail then continues on Rt. 460 toward the town of Grundy. Within .3 of a mile you will pass the Grundy Mural on the outer wall of a local supermarket. This mural depicts the history of Buchanan County and the town of Grundy.