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July 18, 2012
Bramwell enjoys influx of visitors from across the country

By GREG JORDAN Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRAMWELL — For lovers of four-wheeling who watch television shows about the popular pastime, Mercer County and its new branch of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail is becoming a new destination.

In early May, the Outdoor Channel show “Fisher’s ATV World” visited Bramwell and the Pocahontas Trail, the newest branch of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system, to film an episode. The Bramwell show aired Monday evening.

Mayor Lou Stoker of Bramwell said Tuesday that she did not get to watch the show, but her brother in Richmond, Va., taped it for her. The show will have rerun it in October, but shows like it are generating interest already.

“Absolutely, and not just trail riders,” Stoker said. “We’ve had a lot of visitors the last month and a half. We’ve had so many people from out of state. I’ve been asking the trail riders how far they’ve come, and it’s amazing how far they’ve come to ride. This morning we have, just arrived, a family of four who have never ridden the trail before, and they’re staying in the area.”

The number of states Bramwell’s visitors call home is continuing to grow.

“New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Kentucky,” Stoker listed. “This is just recently, and this is not since May 25 when it (trail) opened.  This has been within the last 10 days. And they’re staying over more than one day, which means good things for Mercer County. We’re all going to benefit.”

The outside media coverage as well as local coverage have done a lot to promote Mercer County’s new trail branch and the local communities, Stoker said. The town’s web site features a Bluefield Daily Telegraph column about the trail.

Bramwell works to welcome the visitors by providing concerts on Saturdays as well as attractions. The town welcomes ATV riders to the free shows, Stoker said.

Outside publicity from shows such as “Fisher’s ATV World” and another show, “Dirt Trax” from Canada, which filmed an episode in Bramwell last June, have introduced more ATV riders to the entire trail system, said Jeff Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail. He watched the show Monday evening.

“It was a very good show,” Lusk said. “They did a wonderful job of showcasing Bramwell.”

The extra publicity has helped boost ridership on the trail system.

“It moves the needle for us when it comes to permit sales,” Lusk said. “We’re up over 10 percent this year on permit sales, and we attribute that to these shows and the following they have. These are very, very big for us. “

The shows are giving the Hatfield-McCoy Trail good exposure outside the Mercer County area, but the trail system is also the southern most one in the country, Lusk said.

“It’s the closest one we have to an interstate highway. It’s really, really well positioned,” he said.

“We’re seeing a lot moving. It’s a great time for us on the trail system. We’re growing, and hopefully, it will continue out through the rest of the year.” 

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