Dante Multi-Purpose Trail: Conceptual Master Plan

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Virginia Tech. Community Design Assistance Center


Dante is a small community in Russell County, Virginia. Although today its population does not exceed 1000, it was once a thriving community rich from the abundance of coal layered in the mountains. The community boasted a population of over 4000 and served as the headquarters of the Clinchfield Coal Corporation. As is typical of many Appalachian coal towns, Dante experienced a boom and bust scenario, with the extraction of resources and eventual exodus of the economic driver, the mining industry.
The Dante Lives On 501(c)3 Corporation was founded by residents in 2003 as a way to structure the community by providing central leadership. Their mission is “to improve the quality of life in the region by preserving, restoring, and promoting its cultural heritage while finding new ways to encourage growth and development in its communities.” Steps they are taking to fulfill this call include:
Creating of the Dante Coal and Railroad Museum
- Hosting of an annual reunion
- Building of a outdoor stage for performing artists
- Building of the Dante Coal Miner’s Memorial
- Partnering with Russell County Chamber of Commerce to host an open-air farmers market
- Representation on the Southwest Virginia Coal Heritage Trail planning committee
The Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC) was enlisted to aid Dante Lives On with design recommendations for a multi-use trail that will support the goals of the community organization. This assistance included conceptual trail master planning, experiential representation of the trail through sketches and perspectives, and identification of opportunities for regional trail connections.