Asset #2: A beautiful intact environment—THE WATERSHED
EC sits on the banks of the Russell Fork River, a tributary to the Big Sandy, whose watershed starts higher in Virginia, and flows downstream to the Ohio, where its waters join the Mississippi, Gulf of Mexico, and eventually, the Atlantic Ocean. How EC cares for its river affects a wider world.
Above town, world-class rapids cascade through the Breaks—the “Grand Canyon of the South.” A sizeable multi-state audience of kayakers, campers, and hikers visit Breaks Interstate Park annually. The newly built Pine Mountain Trail ends nearby. If EC could connect to these nearby assets, green tourism seems tantalizingly possible.
Asset #3: WATERFRONT PARK SITE
Called “God’s thumbprint” because of the horseshoe bend in the river that envelops Ain Street, the waterfront is an integral part of the town center.
The EC waterfront was a park-in-waiting, hemmed in by asphalt parking lots.
A peeling sign listing native birds and unprotected birdhouses constituted a “bird sanctuary.” Assets were an attractive historic red caboose (an ersatz “visitor center”), river viewing decks, and easy access to the river. With intervention, a revitalized riverfront could become habitat to butterflies, birds, fish, and an inviting site for human recreation and wildlife viewing.