A (Brief) Guide to the Trails of Thomas

While it may be across the bridge from the rest of town, the Thomas City Park Trails are undeniably a Thomas gem. Whether you’re a serious mountain biker, a beginner or just looking for nice spot to walk the dog or go on a nature walk, Thomas City Park has the trail for you:

 

Dale’s Trail: The newest addition to the family. Dale’s Trail, at less than two miles long and featuring a smooth path, is designed specifically for the newest and youngest riders in town.

 

Jr. Davis Trail: There’s nothing “Jr.” about this one. The outermost loop of the system features some tough climbs and goes all the way from the banks of the river to the top of the park.

 

Bear Bone Trail: The Bear Bone Trail connects to Jr. Davis by the river and up the ridge. Either a challenging ride up or fast one down.   

 

Quattro Cutover: Short and sweet. A rock and dirt filled tribute to our own mayor, Matt Quattro.  

 

Dottie Smith Trail: Another hilly connector that will get you from the river to the ridge in no time.

People of Thomas: Gary Riggs

garyriggs.jpg

When Gary Riggs looks around the interior of County Roads Saloon, the town watering hole that he and his wife Vicki have owned since 2015, he doesn’t just see a bar; he sees Thomas’ history.

“That doorway was the Davis Coal & Gas Company Gas Station…I think in the sixties the addition was added on and it an Exxon Gas Station…It was turned into a restaurant and then a bar. The previous leasers did the woodlork,” says Riggs, giving a tour of the premises.

“The bar top was originally part of the old Thomas bowling alley. And then it was repurposed for the sportsman’s club… So this bar top is easily 125 years old.”

While Riggs may have the knowledge and community pride of a longtime local, he’s actually a relative newcomer to Thomas. A native Floridian, Riggs spent more than two decades working for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Despite a lifelong “heart-link” with the mountains, it took until 2015 to make the move. Vicki’s class reunion in Oakland proved to be the unlikely inspiration.      

“We came up in 2015 for her 50th class reunion. We came up through the mountains here and she put a CD in the player and it was Steve Earle playing “The Mountain.” And that moved me…I wasn’t born in the mountains but I was reborn here.”

After returning to Jacksonville, Gary and Vicky found the building that would become Country Roads and drove up to Thomas with all of their belongings. The pair didn’t even come up with the name for their bar until they were already on the road. By the following year they had bought the building. While a health crisis kept them in Florida for some of the time since then, they are now back in Thomas to stay.

For Riggs, life in Thomas is all about community. Throughout our talk, Riggs went out of his way to credit his and Vicki’s success to the support of neighbors, friends, and even “rival” businesses like the Purple Fiddle; the two establishments frequently direct customers each other’s way. Riggs wants this community-first approach to show in the atmosphere at Country Roads, which he says is modeled on the English idea of a pub as a town-meeting house.

“[It’s] where you make friends, where you discuss the news and what’s going on in the town.”

The rules, he says, are simple.

“There’s no subject that’s off limits. In my experience you can talk about religion, you can talk about politics, if you start out with the basic concept of respect… You’re a human being and you are welcome here.”

To Gary Riggs, Country Roads is more than just a bar. It’s a slice of Thomas’ history and meeting place for its present. It’s his “retirement,” the culmination of a lifetime of work. And it’ll be forever entwined in his and Vicki’s story.  You can see it all on the walls.  

Walk into Country Roads, through that gas station doorway, and look around the corner from the century old bar. Two of the wood panels there are painted gold. They mark the spots on stage where the couple stood on their wedding day. In the bar.


 

Dear Thomas

IMG-0508.JPG

It is hard to believe almost one year has come and gone since I moved to Thomas to begin my service year. When I first came here I had no idea what was in store for me during my year in West Virginia. I had limited to no knowledge about this beautiful, wild and wonderful state, and came in with preconceived notions about what life in WV would be like, and boy was I wrong. I found a community here in Tucker County that I never expected to find. My year living in serving in Thomas has allowed me to not only grow personally, but also professionally and it is all thanks to you all! This community has allowed me to work on projects that I never anticipated. I was able to help put in a trail that I have come to love, learned what it takes to write a comprehensive plan, write this incredible newsletter for you all, and advertise for all of the amazing events that make our town unique. Above all the things I have accomplished during my year of service, the thing that I am the most grateful for is being welcomed into your community with open arms. I have considered it an absolute honor to be able to get to know each and every one of you. Whether we danced together at the Purple Fiddle, attended a yoga class, or even just said hello on Front Street, your kindness in welcoming me into the community is one that I won't soon forget.

My time in Thomas has provided me with some incredible memories. From discovering all of the amazing hikes that lead to the most beautiful views to trying something new like cross country skiing and mountain biking, my time here has definitely not been boring. I have continued to discover my love for all things outdoors. I have learned to love the mountains even though I'm a self described coastal gal. I have learned to take challenges head on. I have learned to be patient with city projects, which tend to take a long time. I have learned to work with all sorts of people, and have come to realize that almost everyone who calls Thomas home are incredibly proud of this small town. I am so incredibly grateful for each and every person I have come to know during my time in Thomas. Though I am sad to say goodbye, I know I can always come back and visit. Thank you to everyone who has made my time here so special. Know that this isn't goodbye, it is just see ya later. As I hand the torch over to the AmeriCorps taking my place in September I am excited to see the amazing work he will do during his service year! I hope you welcome him as graciously as you welcomed me! 

Thomas Veterans Memorial Garden

For years there have been plans to install a Veterans Memorial Garden on Front Street. Over time the plans evolved and motivation ebbed and flowed. This year, however, we finally were able to start putting a plan in motion to get our Veterans Memorial installed. Coming into this AmeriCorps year it was important to me to leave a lasting impact on the Thomas community. One that would remain long after I am gone. I wanted to work on a project that would bring something positive and much needed in the Thomas community. This memorial seemed like the perfect project. After many hours of trying to figure out the best way to implement this memorial garden, I decided to go with something simple. A little garden full of bright colors and a plaque to honor not only the veterans but also the coal miners. After speaking with Mayor Matt and learning about previous plans for the green space that would eventually become the memorial, I was so excited to finally get started. Though it is only the beginning, I am glad I can leave Thomas with a place to pay their respects to those who served their country and the community. 

After months of planning and attempting to find funding for this project, I was awarded a grant through the Tucker County Cultural District Authority, thanks to them it was possible to get this project off the ground. I worked alongside NHT board members, Christine Kozan and Alyssa Hanna to dig out the space that would eventually become the garden. After a few hours and hitting literally the old brick road (I wish I was kidding) we finally had the base of the garden. After picking out a variety of flowers that would not only provide amazing color for most of the year, but would also do well is the area. With the help of the Tucker County Girls Scouts and the two days they were able to help us make the space look more like a garden. Soon we'll be installing a flagpole donated to us by the West Virginia Gold Star Mothers and a plaque honoring the veterans and coal miners from Thomas. In the future, as funding allows we are hoping to be able to add a simple walkway as well as benches that will allow people to sit slightly away from the hustle of Front Street. We would like to thank everyone who aided in the creation of the Veterans Memorial Garden whether you contributed to the original design plan, helped with the purchasing of plants, edited the grant proposal that allowed this project to be funded, or helped put the physical plants in the ground, a project that has been years in the making is finally underway. It is my hope that this memorial garden will serve as a place of gratitude, a place where people can honor those who served.

What's Happening in Thomas- August 2018

Community Meetings:

8/13: Thomas/Davis Planning Commission- 6pm @ TEC

Live Music:

8/1: The Bees Trees- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/2: fort Defiance- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/3: Driftwood- 8:30pm  @ Purple Fiddle

8/4: Jeremy Rodgers- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/4: Belle of the Fall- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/4: Ally Norris- 6pm @ Mountain State

8/4: Driftwood- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/5: Jeremy Rodgers- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/5: Belle of the Fall- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/5: South Hill Banks- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/6: The Wildmans- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/7: Robert Kuhn- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/8: Circa 62- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/9: Kara Grainger- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/10: The Essex Green- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/11: Donna Frost- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/11: Dylan Jane- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/11: The Terah Crawford Band- 6pm @ Mountain State

8/11: The Big Takeover- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/12: Donna Frost- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/12: Dylan Jane- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/12: Qiet- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/13: Hay Fever- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/14: Open Mic with EMay- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/15: Conor & The Wild Hunt- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/16: Stable Shakers ft Brechyn Chace- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle 

8/17: Sol Driven Train- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/18: Kevin Hamric- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/18: Scott Alexander- 6pm @ Mountain State

8/18: The Jack Dunlap Band- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/19: Kevin Hamric- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/19: Jeff German & The Blankety Blanks

8/20: The Fly Birds- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/21: June Star- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8.22: Alash- 8pm@ Purple Fiddle

8/23: The Misty Mountain String Band- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/24: Jakob's Ferry Stragglers- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/25: Brandon S Bowker- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/25: Jason McDonald- 6pm @ Mountain State

8/25: The Dirty Grass Players- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/26: Brandon S Bowker- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/26: Sarah Shook & The Disarmers- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

8/31 Dangermuffin- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

Regular Happenings:

Morning Monday Yoga with Mountain Yoga- 9am @ Allegheny Holistic

Mindful Monday Early Evening with Mountain Yoga- 5:30pm @ Allegheny Holistic

Monday Evening Ying with Mountain Yoga- 7pm @ Allegheny Holistic

Monday Burger Night @ Country Roads 

Tuesday Yoga with Kelly- 9am@ Allegheny Holistic

Tuesday Taco Night @ Country Roads

Wednesday Community Yoga with Mountain Yoga- 6pm @ Blackwater Falls Lodge

Wednesday Women's Drink Special @ Country Roads

Thursday Chef's Specials @ Country Roads

Friday Happy Hour Yoga with Mountain Yoga- 5pm @ Allegheny Holistic

Friday Burger Night- 6pm @ Tip Top

Friday Dinner- 5pm @ Front St Grocers

Friday Seafood Night @ Country Roads

Saturday Dinner -5pm @ Front St Grocers

Saturday Dinner- Farm Up Truck @ Tip Top

Sunday Brunch- Farm Up Truck @ Tip Top 

What's Happening in Thomas- July 2018

City Meetings:

7/9: Thomas Comprehensive Planning Meeting- 6pm @ TEC

7/10: Thomas City Council- 6:30pm @ City Hall

Live Music and Local Happenings

7/1: Bob Keel- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/1: Anna p.s.- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/1: Serenity Fisher and the Cardboard Hears- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/2: Mountain Music Mondays with the Wildmans- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/3: Oak Hill Drifters- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/4: Woody Pines- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/5: Jack Grace Band- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/6: Suitcase Junket- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/7: Caleb Ryan Martin- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/7: Cradle and Grave- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/7: Annie Neeley- 6pm @ Mountain State Brewing

7/7: The Hillbilly Gypsies- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/8: Caleb Ryan Martin- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/8: Cradle and Grave- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/8: Meadow Mountain- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/10: Eilen Jewell- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle 

7/11: Daddy Longleg's Homegrown Revival- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/12: Theory Expats- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/13: My Son the Hurricane- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/14: Mike Gentry- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/14: Mike Vial- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/14: Michelle Anne Fincham- 6pm @ Mountain State Brewing

7/14: Hurricane Hoss and the Perfect Storm- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/15: Mike Gentry- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/15: Mike Vial- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/15: Erica Russo duo- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/16: Mountain Music Mondays with Emmy and Jesse- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/17: Open Mic with EMay- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/18: Emily Mure- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/20: Dana Louise and the Glorious Birds- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/21: Marc Delgado- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/21: Alexa Rose- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/21: Nora Jane Struthers and the Party Line- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/22: Marc Delgado- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/22: Alexa Rose- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/22: Buffalo Roase- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/23: Mountain Music Mondays with Jack Dunlap Band- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/27: Darin & Brooke Aldridge- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/28: DePollo Brothers- 12pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/28: Juels Bland- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/28: Day Old News- 6pm @ Mountain State Brewing

7/28: Mountain Heart- 8:30pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/29: Juels Bland- 1pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/29: Bess Greenberg- 3pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/29: The Maggie Valley Band- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/30: Mountain Music Mondays with Crandall Creek- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

7/31: Added Color- 8pm @ Purple Fiddle

Regular Happenings:

Morning Monday Yoga with Mountain Yoga- 9am @ Allegheny Holistic

Mindful Monday Early Evening with Mountain Yoga- 5:30pm @ Allegheny Holistic

Monday Evening Ying with Mountain Yoga- 7pm @ Allegheny Holistic

Monday Burger Night @ Country Roads 

Tuesday Yoga with Kelly- 9am@ Allegheny Holistic

Tuesday Taco Night @ Country Roads

Wednesday Community Yoga with Mountain Yoga- 6pm @ Blackwater Falls Lodge

Wednesday Women's Drink Special @ Country Roads

Thursday Chef's Specials @ Country Roads

Friday Happy Hour Yoga with Mountain Yoga- 5pm @ Allegheny Holistic

Friday Burger Night- 6pm @ Tip Top

Friday Dinner- 5pm @ Front St Grocers

Friday Seafood Night @ Country Roads

Saturday Dinner -5pm @ Front St Grocers

Saturday Dinner- Farm Up Truck @ Tip Top

Sunday Brunch- 11am @ Front St Grocers

Sunday Brunch- Farm Up Truck @ Tip Top 

 

 

People of Thomas: Emily Wilson-Hauger

19023746_10100432870082234_70435403459798030_o.jpg

by Natalia Dutt, AmeriCorps Member

Being part of the Thomas community doesn’t mean you have to live right in the town. We are surrounded by community members who are passionate about helping our city even though they live beyond the confines of the municipality. One of those individuals is Emily Wilson-Hauger. When she initially visited the Tucker County region for her honeymoon she fell in love with the beautiful landscapes, the unique culture, and the tight knit community that is found within Thomas. Emily was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. After attending Messiah College she eventually went on to receive her masters in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University. After graduation she and her husband, Matt moved to Washington DC where she worked for an international development organization. She slowly realized that the big city commute was not something she wanted for her life. Her husband received a job opportunity that allowed him to work remotely, so they decided to pack their bags and head to the mountains. Though she had no set job, she knew Tucker County was the place she wanted to settle and raise a family. After working a few seasons at Timberline the opportunity arose to become an AmeriCorps member serving with Woodlands Development Group, New Historic Thomas, and Tucker County Development Authority. 

For two years she served with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area and gained the experience to make a difference within her community. Upon the end of her AmeriCorps terms she was accepted a position within the Woodlands Development Group as well as served as the Executive Director to New Historic Thomas for two years. Since moving to the Thomas area almost six years ago, she has truly made her mark on the area and we would be lost without her. She has been able to get over $1 million worth of grants that have gone into the development of Thomas. She has played a serious part in a wide variety of projects that have made our town and the surrounding area a better place. From working on the riverfront redevelopment plans, putting together a survey of the BAD buildings in the community to be worked on, as well as starting to draft a comprehensive plan for the city of Thomas and the town of Davis, she has been able to make a profound impact on the community whether she realizes it or not. Through the wide variety of projects she has worked on the Thomas City Park Trails is one of her most proud accomplishments. She stated that even though these trails may get used by visitors, it is a trail that will be used for her friends and family which above all else makes all of the work worth it. 

Through the wide variety of projects Emily has had the chance to work on, being part of the community has been something that has kept her rooted in Thomas. Citing that the opportunity to raise her child surrounded by so much nature and positivity has made it a no brainer that she wanted to make this home for the long term. Being surrounded by a great group of friends all with similar interests has made Tucker County the perfect home for her and her family. She has been able to make Thomas and Tucker County overall a place where she can work and play. Whether she is writing a grant for a new mountain bike trail or utilizing the incredible trails that are found in within her Tucker County home, she has been able to find her place here while making a lasting difference within her community. She has said some of her favorite memories throughout her time here are just getting outside with her friends who have slowly become her secondary family. Being surrounded by individuals who have a passion for their home and choose to be here, is a constant reminder that she and her family made the perfect choice to stay here for the long haul. 

We cannot thank Emily enough for all of the hard work she puts in helping Thomas be the best it can be! 

Volunteer Work on Thomas City Park Trails

by Natalia Dutt, AmeriCorps Member

Now that the sun is finally shining and summer is officially underway it means it is time to get back to work on the Thomas City Park beginner loop trail. After a successful fall season we are so excited to get this project completed this year. Zach Adams, the brains behind the trails, has been working tirelessly to get these routes completed and open to the public. We have been lucky these last few weeks to work alongside two volunteer groups to get some progress made on the trails. The first was a group of ten individuals who took time out of the Canaan Mountain Bike Festival to do some much needed maintenance on some of the older trails. For around three hours the volunteers hiked around the older loops and cleaned them up. From lopping low hanging branches to creating new drains to make sure the trails are free of standing water, the volunteers were a great help in taking on a job that usually is over looked at most riding locations. These volunteers graciously gave up their mornings to help maintain and take care of the trails that are so important to the Thomas community. 


The next group was a group high school students in the youth conservation corps through Mobilize Green. 10 students and 3 leaders came out for a day that gave them the opportunity to work in the mud and learn all that it takes to build trails. They had the pleasure of seeing the sloppier side of trail building! These volunteers were able to do some finish work, which includes getting rid of all of the unnecessary roots and re-naturalizing the edges of the trail. Though the volunteers had to unfortunately call it quits earlier than we had hoped due to the rain the work they were able to accomplish in only a few hours, have saved us heaps of time.

These trails are utilized by locals and tourists alike and it is incredible to see them getting involved in the building process. It is only with a community effort that we can take on a project of this caliber. Whether these individuals are volunteering and helping with the trail, donating to the project, or just getting the word out about this project- they are helping in more ways than they may realize. We are so grateful to the volunteer groups who came out to help us with some much needed work on these trails. We are even more grateful for the individuals who have supported this project since it began almost two years ago. We would not have been able to get this far without all of your help and support! Be on the lookout in the coming months for updates on the finalized project!

Mountaineer Days

IMG_0634 (1).JPG

by Natalia Dutt, AmeriCorps Member

Every year around the Fourth of July Thomas host Mountaineer Days. Everyone who lives in this area knows that it is one of busiest times of year and brings loads of people not just from Tucker County to enjoy all of the festivities this weekend has to offer. All day Saturday people lined the streets to watch the massive parade which seemingly every firetruck in the area blare their sirens through the town. Venders set up along the riverfront selling a wide variety of crafts and some delicious food. There was live music all day brought to you by local musicians playing in the bank parking lot or the Purple Fiddle. The highlight of the festival were the fireworks put on by the Thomas Volunteer Fire Department. They treated us to almost an hour and a half of non stop fireworks that filled our little mountain town with bright colors. This weekend is always a joyous one that people look forward to every year. It is one of many reminders of how blessed we are to live in Thomas. We are able to enjoy this tight knit community all year round who are not only proud of where we live, but also are eager to watch it thrive! As we get back to normalcy after a jammed packed weekend we hope everyone has a fun and safe Fourth of July.