When I first visited West Virginia for an ATV trail riding vacation on the Hatfield McCoy Trails and announced that my five-year plan was to open a lodging business, being my own boss and running a business with my family seemed like the best reasons to start planning.
In October 2019, we moved to West Virginia and I started trying to figure out where the best place to open a lodging business was. I began taking classes for entrepreneurs offered by Jim Spencer and the Department of Economic Development in Bluefield. I was amazed at how helpful the people of West Virginia were in helping others start their own business. I met some other great people in the same business I am in, the owners of Black Oak ATV Resort and Hidden Hollow ATV Ranch. The knowledge I have gained so far has been priceless.
After hearing from Jeff Lusk, Executive Director of the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, that McDowell County needed lodging, I decided to look for property to buy in McDowell County. During my search, I went to Welch, the county seat of McDowell County. It became even more obvious to me how wonderful and helpful the citizens of the area are. Missy Nester, the publisher of "The Welch News" and "The Independent Herald" was helpful in telling me about the history of the area and making my family and I feel welcome. In addition, the Business Development Specialist of the City of Welch, Jason Grubb and Welch's mayor, Harold McBride, gave me invaluable information about McDowell County. Coal was once king in West Virginia and as the use of coal has declined, the communities have suffered financially. However, the character of the people has remained unchanged. It did not take long for me to realize that the success of my business was no longer just about financial stability for my family business. Thanks to all the people I have met, I feel like my family belongs here and I want to make my fellow citizens proud. Without the support and help of the community, my small business cannot be successful.
In March 2020, I found a house for sale in War, West Virginia, near the Hatfield McCoy Warrior Trailhead. The renovation of this house is nearly complete, and the house will be ready to rent when the trails reopen on May 21st. Last week, I purchased a house in Caretta from Brenda and Charles Beach Jr. Mr. Beach's grandfather purchased the house from the coal company that he was employed with. I can hardly wait to share the history of the house with my customers. Patrons of Dusty Trails will be able to experience the era of yesteryear as well as spending time relaxing in the beautiful outdoors of Southern West Virginia, thanks to the people who have helped me along the way. Many people in McDowell County have shared stories and photographs of their personal histories. All of this will be shared with my visitors.
Over the years, communities in West Virginia have been forced to evolve, as they can no longer be completely reliant on the coal industry for employment. This does not mean that the history of coal mining should disappear. Generations of men have worked in the coal mines doing jobs that most of would last about three minutes doing. My business plan has evolved as well. What started as something I was doing for my family has now become something I am doing for my family and for the people who have made me feel so welcome here.
“People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”