Millionaires and Miners
(The homes are open for tours to the public the 2nd Saturday in May and the 2nd Saturday in December. Private group tours may be arranged prior to arrival are available upon request contact Betty Goins at 304-248-8381)
Begin your tour by reserving a room in one of the areas hotels or motels Bluefield and Princeton have a variety of options. For a more romantic setting try the Perry House B & B located in Bramwell. On the first day of your journey recapture the Gilded Age by visiting the historic town of Bramwell. Bramwell was home to as many as nineteen millionaires and their families who made their fortunes from the Pocahontas coalfields. The tour begins at the Presbyterian Church where you will hear the general history of Bramwell. As you visit each home you are greeted by a costumed guide who will tell you the story of the original home owner and their families. After visiting the Bank of Bramwell stop in to the Masonic Temple for light refreshments. There are several unique boutiques located on Main Street to browse through. Be sure to visit the Coal Heritage Trail Interpretive Center where the locals have donated memorabilia that depicts the history of the town from its beginning all the way through to present day. Once you have visited the millionaire’s town, travel a short distance to the Pocahontas Mine & Museum for a walking tour. The Pocahontas Mine was the first world wide exhibition mine. (To extend this tour add a day for the Bramwell Theatre Festival in the summer or the Bramwell Octoberfest in the fall).
Day two have a hearty breakfast at a local restaurant. Today you will begin to travel the Coal Heritage Trail. You have seen how the Millionaires lived in Bramwell now see the towns where the miners worked and lived. The trail will begin on US route 52 in Bramwell. Along the way you will see sites where coal was king and still reins today. As you reach the town of Welch that grew from the railroad as a result of the rapid expansion of the mining industry you will merge onto state route 16. Between Mullens and Pineville you will pass the Itmann Company Store. Named for I. T. Mann who resided in the town of Bramwell and started the Bank of Bramwell. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Continue traveling north to the town of MacArthur where you will take Interstate 77 to exit 45. A must see along the trail is Tamarak “The Best of West Virginia”. Tamarak is a great lunch or dinner stop as well as a shopping destination. Visitors get a chance to see one of a kind arts and crafts made by West Virginians around the state and the Greenbrier food court provides a taste of art at an affordable price. (To extend this drive continue on Interstate 77 and take US route 19 towards Summersville the trail will end in Ansted on route 60 the Midland Trail.)
Return to Princeton south on Interstate 77 take exit 14 through Athens into Pipestem State Park. Stretch your legs on a trail or enjoy a horse back ride before dinner. Stay long enough to enjoy a meal at the Oak Supper Club under an 800 year old oak tree before returning to your hotel for the evening.
If you are bringing a group contact the Mercer County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau 1-800-221-3206 or the Town of Bramwell 304-248-7114 for their personal touches on this tour.