Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023
    Former Coal Towns Embrace Tourism and Ecotourism

    The rise and fall of the coal industry has had a significant impact on many towns around the world. Once thriving coal towns have been left deserted and in decline as the demand for coal decreased. However, some of these former coal towns have found new ways to thrive beyond the fossil fuel industry by embracing tourism and ecotourism.

    One striking example is the Tri-Cities in Kentucky, which consists of the three Harlan County towns of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch. These towns were once the largest company-owned mining town in the world. When the coal industry began to decline, the towns faced the prospect of becoming ghost towns. However, with the help of a $2.55 million Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Grant, the region transformed itself into an ecotourism destination. Today, visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, and even off-road ATV adventures at Kingdom Come State Park. The region also offers mine tours for those interested in mining history.

    In Western Australia’s Shire of Collie, another former coal town, tourism has become a way to revive the local economy. The region boasts rich mining history, and visitors can explore hiking and biking trails, go white-water rafting, and enjoy canoeing and kayaking on pristine lakes. The Collie Mural Trail is a unique art exhibit that features over 30 Australian artists and tells the story of the coal mining town. The area is also home to Wellington National Park, which has been expanded to cater to mountain bikers.

    Seaham in England’s Durham Heritage Coast has also reinvented itself through tourism. Once plagued by slag heaps and environmental damage, the town has invested £10 million to clean up the beaches and restore habitats. Now visitors flock to Seaham to collect sea glass along its shore. The town also offers historical attractions, such as Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, and a marina that attracts maritime enthusiasts.

    Even the Rust Belt city of Scranton in Pennsylvania has found ways to embrace its coal-mining past and utilize it for tourism. The Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum provides insight into the city’s coal-mining history, while the Lackawanna County Coal Mine offers underground tours for visitors to experience the mining process firsthand.

    These examples demonstrate how former coal towns can reinvent themselves and thrive beyond the decline of the coal industry. By embracing tourism and ecotourism, these towns have found new ways to attract visitors and support their local economies.