West Virginia governor unveils new Elk River state park

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Chelsea Ruby unveils new state park
Chelsea Ruby unveils new state park on Buffalo Creek near Clay, West Virginia.

Stressing his commitment to a diversified state economy, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice on Wednesday announced the inclusion of a new state park—a trail that wanders a 72 mile stretch of the Elk River in Clay County.

Introduced by West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby, the governor told a crowd of more than 100 dignitaries and onlookers that the new park was a hallmark of his commitment to building a new West Virginia economy that would depend partly on tourism.

Riders pedal along the old Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad.

“I truly do believe in tourism. I truly do believe in the diversification of our state,” the governor said, stressing that he would not deemphasize growing traditional West Virginia industries such as coal.

The new park will follow the winding route of the Elk River from near the village of Widen to the stream’s mouth on the Elk River near Clay, the seat of Clay County.

Justice said the park, which was provided to the state by railroad developer Frank Jorgenson, would be transferred to the state by the end of the year.

The park concept has recently been popularized by the Buffalo Creek Railroad, which is providing rail tours of the lower section of the creek near its mouth on the Elk.

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