Spring into the Outdoors

Parsons is blessed with an amazing wealth of natural beauty.  Now that the weather is warming up, it's time to get out and explore the rivers, trails and back roads of our beautiful county.

Without ever leaving Parsons you can:

Splash into the Cheat River at one of the three Cheat River Water Trail access points in town.  Float your canoe, kayak or other watercraft just downriver to Holly Meadows or paddle as far downstream as Rowlesburg.  Find up-to-date river conditions, maps and other info for planning your trip at cheatriverwatertrail.org.

Journey along the Allegheny Highlands Trail.  Pick up the trail where it crosses the historic railroad bridge right in the middle of Parsons.  Set out on foot or bike toward Elkins, or head in the opposite direction toward Hambleton, Hendricks, and Blackwater Canyon (note: the trail through Blackwater Canyon is undeveloped railroad grade).  Trail maps are available at highlandstrail.org.  Coming up on June 4, the first annual Parsons Bike & Hike will take place on the AHT.

Picnic along Shavers Fork at the Water Street riverfront area.  This peaceful stretch of land along the river bank is the focus of a new park design project.

Stroll the Nursery Bottom Tree Trail, located just off of US-219 at the Monongahela National Forest Cheat Ranger District, where many unusual and interesting tree specimens remain from when this area was used as a tree nursery and CCC camp.  Visit the on-site Forest Service office for a brochure with a guided tree walk, as well as maps and information on the many other outdoor recreation opportunities in the forest.

Bike, walk, run and play at Mill Race Park.  On Friday nights from June to August, a free outdoor concert series takes place here.  You can also get a full-body workout on the exercise stations along the walking trail.

Skate at the Good Vibes Skate Haven at River City Park.  Equipment includes a half pipe, quarter pipe, bank, fun box featuring rounded rail and stairs, a flat rail, bench, a kicker, a manual pad and a bi-level skate pad.

Just outside of town, more adventures await.

Just uphill from Parsons is the Fernow Experimental Forest, a section of National Forest dedicated to research on forest ecosystems and management since 1934.  Interpretive signs describe the experiments that have been carried out here and their effects.  More information and a map can be found here.  Within the forest, the half-mile Zero-Grade Trail offers a flat walking surface accessible to a wide variety of users.  During the warm seasons many wildflowers can be seen from the trail.

Beyond the Fernow is Otter Creek Wilderness, offering 45 miles of hiking trails spread over 20,698 acres of forest.  Plan your day hike or backpacking trip here.

In the small town of St. George, 6 miles north of Parsons on Rte. 72, Blackwater Outdoor Adventures offers whitewater rafting as well as flatwater canoeing, kayaking and tubing.

Holly Meadows Golf Course, located between Parsons and St. George, offers nine holes of golf and a commanding view of the valley.

Horseshoe Recreation & Campground Area, tucked into a hollow along Horseshoe Run about 7 miles from St. George, is a perfect spot to picnic and fish.  There is a wide grassy field for horseshoe games and field sports.

Climb up Olson Observation Tower on Backbone Mountain, the site of the first fire tower in West Virginia, for breathtaking views.  The tower is approximately 8 miles from Parsons—find directions here.

Leap across the Potomac River in a single bound at the Fairfax Stone.  This stone, set by surveyors in 1746, marks the headspring of the Potomac and was later used to demarcate the boundary between West Virginia and Maryland.

The rest of Tucker County is rich in outdoor activities as well, from Canaan Valley to Blackwater Falls.  Plan your adventures at canaanvalley.org.

If you've been to any other great outdoor destinations near Parsons, let us know in the comments!

Volunteers Clean Out Railroad Depot

A group of students from Transylvania University, located in Lexington, Kentucky, helped to clean out the Parsons Railroad Depot this morning.  The students also assisted on several farms in the area this week, as part of a spring break trip called Food, Faith, & Sustainable Growing in Appalachia.

After years of neglect, the Parsons depot was in need of a thorough cleaning.  Amidst all the dust and bric-a-brac, however, were many interesting items, from iron railroad tools to historic photos and newspaper clippings.  After washing the windows, sweeping the floors, clearing out the closets, getting rid of junk, and picking up trash, the depot began to look much more like its former self.

Nearby in the historic Tucker County Bank Building, several of the volunteers continued the hard work of cleaning up the two upper floors.  Led by PRO ON TRAC chairman Jimmy Judy, they washed windows, pulled out old nails, and swept.

We greatly appreciate these hard-working young people who have sought out opportunities to serve others during their vacation.  These two historic buildings mean a lot to the Parsons community and are well worth preserving for future generations to enjoy.

If you would like to assist with the Railroad Depot or the Bank Building, please get in touch with us at (304) 478-6009 or parsonsontrac@gmail.com.  It takes a lot of time and effort to rehabilitate these buildings, and we welcome anyone who wants to help.  You can also support our work by donating money or supplies; please mail contributions to Parsons Revitalization Organization, P.O. Box 203, Parsons, WV 26287.

Parsons Bike & Hike

It’s summer—time to get out and explore! Join us for an all-ages bike ride or hike on the Allegheny Highlands Trail, starting at Mill Race Park in Parsons.

8 - 10 am         Registration

9 - 10:30 am    Hit the trail!

Hike or bike until you reach one of the marked turning points, grab a token, then head back to Mill Race.

12 pm           End time, ribbons presented at Mill Race Park

Food & drinks available for purchase

Entry fee: $5 for ages 11+ / $3 for ages 10 & under

Ribbons will be awarded based on distance covered.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/parsons-bike-hike-tickets-22740224624

Celebrate Parsons Tickets Now Available

Please join us for a banquet celebrating the outstanding people who call Parsons home.

The event will include a silent auction and 50/50 raffle, in addition to a delicious dinner catered by Tuscan Grille (Piccolo Paula's Caffé).

Tickets are available for $15 per person or $25 per couple - click here to purchase.  Tickets are also available at our office in Parsons City Hall.  All proceeds will benefit PRO ON TRAC’s revitalization efforts in downtown Parsons.

We are now accepting nominations for the following awards:

    Volunteer of the Year
    Employee of the Year
    Business Person/Entrepreneur of the Year
    Public Safety Person of the Year (Fire Dept/EMS/Police)
    Most Courageous Award
    Distinguished Senior Citizen of the Year
    Celebrate Parsons Award

These awards are to be presented to those people who live or work in the Parsons area.  Please submit letters of nomination by April 20 (email to phylliscarr@frontiernet.net or mail to PRO ON TRAC at P.O. Box 203, Parsons, WV 26287).

We look forward to seeing you there!

Shavers Shore Design Project

Exciting news! This spring, a WVU landscape architecture class led by Professor Peter Butler will be designing a riverfront park for the area around Water Street, nicknamed "Shavers Shore."

The class will visit on April 1 to see the site and talk with community members. The students will present their designs on April 29 in Morgantown.

If you would like to hear more about this project or offer your own ideas for improving our riverfront, please don't hesitate to contact us by calling (304) 478-6009, emailing parsonsontrac@gmail.com, or dropping by our office at City Hall.

We want your input!  To help the students understand what Parsons residents want the park to be like, please fill out this quick survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3FW3MD7

Tucker County Day in Photos

Tucker County made a great impression at the state capitol last Wednesday.  The West Virginia Culture Center was packed with people celebrating the many things our county has to offer. 

A display of John Warner's photographs from the 1985 Flood made the evening an especially powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of the people of Tucker County.  Once devastated by floodwaters, the community is now thriving and hopeful.  

Please enjoy these photos from the event.

The City of Parsons at Tucker County Day (left to right): City Recorder Nick Carr, Mayor Dorothy Judy, City Administrator Jason Myers, Council Member Bruce Kolsun, and Council Member Tim Auvil.

The City of Parsons at Tucker County Day (left to right): City Recorder Nick Carr, Mayor Dorothy Judy, City Administrator Jason Myers, Council Member Bruce Kolsun, and Council Member Tim Auvil.

Tucker County Day declaration at the State Capitol earlier in the day.

Tucker County Day declaration at the State Capitol earlier in the day.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry speaks about his native Tucker County.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry speaks about his native Tucker County.

Group photo from above.

Group photo from above.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry, left, and Parsons City Administrator Jason Myers.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry, left, and Parsons City Administrator Jason Myers.

Displays like this one showcased the many businesses, organizations, and events in Tucker County.

Displays like this one showcased the many businesses, organizations, and events in Tucker County.

Jessica Scowcroft, executive director of the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau, chats with PRO ON TRAC board members Bonnie Swyter and Ken Smith.

Jessica Scowcroft, executive director of the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau, chats with PRO ON TRAC board members Bonnie Swyter and Ken Smith.

Promotion Committee chair Phyllis Carr at left.

Promotion Committee chair Phyllis Carr at left.

Tucker County Day: Celebrating 30 Years of Innovation, Community and Business

On February 10, 2016, Tucker County will once again take to the state capitol to tell our story and celebrate our achievements.  All Tucker County citizens, businesses, and organizations are welcome to attend.  The 30th anniversary of the 1985 flood makes this a special moment to remember how far Tucker County has come, thanks to neighbors working together to rebuild and uplift this community.

Meetings with legislators and officials will take place during the day.  In the evening we will gather in the West Virginia Culture Center for a celebration with local food and beer, short film screenings, and a special address from Justice Allen H. Loughry.  More information about the event is available at tuckerwv.com.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP here: http://tuckercountyday.eventbrite.com/

A coach bus will pick up in Davis and Parsons on Tucker County Day and return the day of the event.  You can register to ride the bus when you RSVP.

A Facebook page for the event is here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

A River City Christmas Story

Before the parade, children rode on the horse-drawn sleigh that would later carry Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Before the parade, children rode on the horse-drawn sleigh that would later carry Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The Parsons Christmas Parade brought hundreds of people into the streets last Saturday evening to celebrate the season.  Despite the lack of snow, spirits were merry and bright as families took sleigh rides, roasted marshmallows, and enjoyed the festivities.

This year's parade, themed "A River City Christmas Story," was the largest in recent memory, with more than sixty entries.  PRO ON TRAC is grateful to everyone who helped make this community celebration possible.  Tamara Michael at the city water office deserves special recognition for her hard work organizing the parade over the past few months.

Hayrides were drawn by TCHS student Tanner Burns in his restored 1952 Farmall Tractor.

Hayrides were drawn by TCHS student Tanner Burns in his restored 1952 Farmall Tractor.

Before the event, PRO ON TRAC volunteers gathered to decorate the McDonald Building.  Decked out with garlands, wreaths and sparkling trees, the building is looking better than ever.  Special thanks go out to Roxanne Tuesing for providing many of the decorations.

Awnings and lighting are on their way to the McDonald Building, but in the meantime ribbons and greenery keep things cheery.

Awnings and lighting are on their way to the McDonald Building, but in the meantime ribbons and greenery keep things cheery.

The beautiful decorations all over town remind us of the warmth and positive spirit of this community.  We are truly grateful for your support as we work to make Parsons a better place.  We cannot wait to see what we will accomplish together in 2016.

From everyone at PRO ON TRAC, we wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy new year!

1985 Flood Remembered in Parsons

Almost a hundred people came together on Thursday evening to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the devastating flood of 1985.  In spite of the great losses suffered in Parsons and nearby communities, the courage and kindness of neighbors stood out amidst all the fear and destruction of that fateful November night.

The ceremony began along the calm waters of Shaver's Fork with a welcome from Mayor Dorothy Judy.  Tucker County Commission President Lowell Moore described the flood and its aftermath—47 lives lost across the state, thousands of homes and businesses destroyed, and countless families displaced.  He also recounted the heroic recovery efforts of locals and strangers alike, from shoveling mud out of homes to donating supplies and equipment to raising money by selling cookies.  Former Sheriff Tom Felton read Cleta Long's moving poem "Thankful for a Fodder Shock," in which the poet remembers fleeing from the floodwaters as they overtook her home in Dry Fork to take refuge in a crude shelter in a field. 

 

Belva Dilly told the story of returning to her flooded home, where she found everything covered in mud—everything but one yellow rose, blooming in the garden in spite of it all.  Finally, Reverend Philip Dent of St. John's Church invited everyone to place a yellow rose of hope at the flood memorial.  Sally Purnell led the group in singing Amazing Grace as they crossed the bridge to the memorial.

Parsons flood memorial decorated with yellow roses of hope.  November 5, 2015.

The railroad bridge over Shaver's Fork.  November 5, 2015.

The railroad bridge over Shaver's Fork.  November 5, 2015.

After the ceremony, the crowd gathered at the Tucker County Courthouse, where photos, newspaper clippings, and video footage of the 1985 flood were on display, thanks to the Tucker County Historical Society and the Friends of the Cheat.

Many local residents shared personal stories from the flood.  Donna Carr told the story of her father, Don Goss, who used his boat to rescue victims from the raging waters.  Charles Lloyd, a firefighter at the time, recalled the sudden, unexpected nature of the flood and the efforts of emergency response personnel to save residents from the deluge.  Dorothy Carr, then a nurse at Tucker County Hospital, remembers the hospital staff working hard to care for patients without electricity as the ground floor filled with mud.  The powerful stories were too numerous to list here, but all drew attention to one thing: the amazing strength and resilience of this community.

PRO ON TRAC is honored to be a part of this community.  We are working hard to improve Parsons, and we could not do it without the wonderful people who call this valley home.  Thank you to everyone who attended the flood commemoration and shared your stories with us.