BRAMWELL — Increasing trail permit sales and more local business activity were signs Thursday of the continued economic stimulus being seen along the Pocahontas Trail, Mercer County’s branch of the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail.
In 2018, a total of 50,031 permits were sold to riders going on the trail system, according to Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail Authority. As of Thursday, trail permit sales were up 10.2 percent over last year’s. The final number for trail permit sales will be tabulated in November.
“It looks like we could top 55,000 annual riders in 2019,” Lusk said. “We’re up right now and we’re only halfway through the year.”
Summer is a busy time for the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, and Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are big weekends for the trail, he said.
“Everyone will be booked pretty solid,” Lusk predicted. “It will be a big week and a big weekend for our folks. They’re having a good year down in Bramwell this year.”
Bramwell Mayor Louise Stoker said the town was expecting a busy Fourth of July.
“Absolutely. We’re looking for a lot of visitors and the big reason for it is the Hatfield-McCoy Trail,” she said. “We are seeing more traffic and there’s never been a let up with the tourists, especially on the weekend.”
Bramwell is also known for the homes that coal industry millionaires constructed there, and more visitors are taking time to look at the town itself.
“There are a lot of people coming in just to walk around, not just to ride trails,” Stoker said. “They come to see the town itself. It’s been a good summer for Bramwell and the area.”
Down Route 52 in the Bluewell community, local businesses are seeing their share of ATV tourism, said Skip Crane, president of the Bluewell Improvement Association.
“Oh man, I could tell you some great stuff,” he stated. “Lynn’s Drive-In has already sold more ice cream than they have sold all last summer last year. They’re swamped with ATV people. I’ll bet you the business in Bluewell is almost twice than what it was last summer.”
Crane said he expected to see even more business activity when a new flea market being established at the former 84 Lumber property off Route 52 near Bluefield opens on July 6. Local lodgings such as Buffalo Trail and the Mud Pitt stay busy, he added.
“We need more lodgings,” Crane stated. “The more lodgings we have, the more people that are going to come. You can tell.”
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