The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center is enhancing cultural tourism through story

Monday, October 05, 2020

The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center has partnered with the Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Marion County Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCCVB) to enhance tourism in Marion County while improving the quality of life for West Virginians. This collaboration is a component of “Voicing History: Enhancing Tourism Through Story,” an Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). 

The ARC seeks to further the Appalachian community through economy, workforce, infrastructure, culture, and leadership. Each year the ARC provides grants to colleges and universities, empowering students with the opportunity to create and lead initiatives within their communities. 

Fairmont State students involved in the ATP are working to uncover the history of the Four States community, located in southern Marion County. Four States was once a flourishing mining town. However, little documentation of the fading community remains. Oral history from Four States will be collected and shared on the Marion County Rail Trail and social media channels. 

Designs for signage to be placed on the Rail Trail will be comprised of oral histories collected and additional research findings from FSU students. Upon completion, tourists and residents will have access to information and histories from QR codes placed on the Rail Trail signage. Other media forms outlining stories shared from the Four States community will be available on the MCCVB website and social media pages, along with The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center permanent gallery and social media platforms.

The Fairmont State project team is comprised of students from the Preserving Appalachian Culture course and student workers from The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center, led by Dr. Francene Kirk and Lynnette Swiger. Students working on the project include Brittany Bagwell, Brittney Knight, Melissa Hixenbaugh, Brady Price, Chase Taylor, Mason Taylor, Hunter VanGilder, Rosemary Velazquez, and Katelynn Watkins.

Of the fourteen ATP schools, Fairmont State is the only university in West Virginia participating in the project. For more information about the “Voicing History: Enhancing Tourism Through Story” project or to provide oral history, contact Dr. Francene Kirk, or 304-367-4403.