May 10, 2012

‘Fisher’s ATV World’ come to Bramwell to welcome Hatfield-McCoy Trailhead

BRAMWELL — The cosmic tumblers of the universe appear to be falling into place as Bramwell, the home of the millionaire coal barons will soon be featured on the popular Outdoor Channel show, “Fisher’s ATV World.”

The Fishers, Brian and Melissa, arrived in Bramwell Wednesday afternoon, and will be the first two riders to sample Bramwell’s connection to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System. While it has long been known as the architectural crown jewel of the Pocahontas coalfields, Bramwell is about to be exposed to a nationwide audience of ATV enthusiasts through the popular show.

“I didn’t expect this,” Melissa Fisher said as she sat on the porch of the Hewitt mansion, now owned by Harold and Rhonda Brown. “We were on the highway, and when we got off, we dropped into a scene that was right out of Mayberry. The houses are so beautiful, the people are so friendly and the community is just so,” she said and paused. “Peaceful.”

About 10 years ago, the Fishers parlayed their love of all-terrain-vehicle riding into a television show that allows them to travel to some of the best ATV-riding communities in the U.S., and to experience the unique qualities that make each community special.

“When we were driving down here, we stopped at a place on I-77, and some guy saw our trailer, came up to us and said: ‘Hey, I’ve seen you guys on TV,’” Brian Fisher said. “Every time I come to West Virginia, I feel like I’m at home. The people are nice and the state is ATV-friendly.”

Jeff Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield & McCoy Trail System said that he started inviting Brian Fisher to each new trail head opening about 6 years ago, and in the interim, first Brian, and later Brian and Melissa together, started making frequent visits to the system. “They’ve done 12-14 shows from this trail system in the past six years,” Lusk said.

The Fishers hail from Dover, Pa., between Harrisburg and York, Pa. They met after high school, dated for four years, and have been married for 20 years. Brian, 43, characterizes himself as a dreamer, and while Melissa, 42, said that she told him to take the cameras back when he brought them into their ATV dealership, “but he didn’t do it,” she said. Brian Fisher worked for a year to get their first sponsor — Yamaha — and the show has grown in popularity since then.

“Once we put it on television, everyone will see it,” Brian Fisher said of Bramwell.

The Fishers are staying in the Hewitt carriage house during their Bramwell visit. As he showed them around the place, Harold Brown explained that he and his wife visited Bramwell, “and we thought it was a magical place,” he said. They bought the Hewitt house in 2009, and are in the process of returning it to its 1914 splendor. “On Saturdays and Sundays, there are always people walking along the street just looking at the house,” Brown said.

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System has nearly 300 miles of trails, and with the opening of the Bramwell trail head later this month, ATV riders can travel through the mountains of southern West Virginia from Bramwell to Twin Falls State Park, Lusk said as he took the Fishers on a walking tour of the town. “Virginia is now developing a trail system that will connect with the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System in Bramwell,” he said.

Bramwell Mayor Louise Stoker gave the visitors a heaping helping of hospitality as well as a running narrative of Bramwell’s history. The Fishers seemed captivated as Stoker told them about the Bank of Bramwell, and provided the history of each home. “You can walk in the street if you want to,” she said.

“Bramwell is really a special place in the trail system,” Lusk said. “When the coal was gone from so many of the towns in the system, new business owners just stripped the facades off of the old stores and put in new businesses. But here, the architecture has been preserved. The homes are just beautiful.”

A pair of owls, an adult and a juvenile, caught the eye of the visitors as they strolled down Main Street. Mayor Stoker said that the Fishers would be guests of honor during a dinner at the Corner Shop to cap off their first night in Bramwell in style. Today, Lusk will introduce them to the new section of the trail that is due to open on May 25. 

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