We recently discussed the newly created New River Gorge National Park and Preserve — well, sort of. The park has always been a popular destination for travelers, but it simply changed its designation as a national park instead of a state park. The Nuttallburg Coal Mining Complex is situated near the town of Winona, which itself is inside the park. And it’s one heck of a destination. You’ll find an abandoned mine, a ghost town, and a great hike all in one place.
One of the most scenic parts of the hike is where an old conveyor belt climbs the hillside toward the mine.
According to the national park website, “Nuttallburg was a bustling mining community [by 1900] continuing to thrive after Nuttall’s death in 1897 under the direction of his heirs. The town became the focus of national attention in the 1920’s when, in an effort known as ‘vertical integration’ to gain control of all aspects of production, automobile industrialist Henry Ford leased the town’s mines to provide coal for his company’s steel mills.”
The town thrived during this time, but Ford’s plan was a disaster. He couldn’t afford to purchase the track of the railroad that led to the mine, which was problematic for transportation. He sold his stake in the mine only a few years later in 1928.
Headhouse trail is less than a mile and rated as a moderate hike along a mostly gravel pathway. The path terminates at the top of the conveyor. You’ll find a junction leading towards a nearly 1-mile Conveyor Trail that goes toward Keeneys Creek Rail Trail, a 3.3-mile trail.
One thing to know before you try to visit this site is that it’s closed to road traffic. You’ll need to walk the 3.5 miles to the mine or find another way in. Please heed all warning signs. Abandoned mines can be extremely dangerous.