When people think of state parks, they automatically think of our natural resources. But our mission is to also protect the cultural and historical resources. The way individual parks choose to do that may vary depending in the unique story of the park.
The New River was vital in the early industrial revolution
For New River Valley, due to its high mineral content. The town of Foster Falls was a product of this iron industry. As in most mining towns during that time, after the mining started booming other aspects of town life did too. One of those enmities was the hotel. Originally built in 1887, it served as the Foster Falls community hotel until the flood of 1919. Following the flood, the mining company left operations at Foster Falls and the hotel was sold for one dollar to the Abingdon Presbytery. It was converted to a girl’s industrial school. Industrial schools taught young ladies the art of home making, they were also given time for school subjects and bible studies. In 1938, a two story brick boy’s cottage was built beside the original structure and became a coed orphanage. In 2014, New River Trail State Park has completed efforts to stabilize the children’s home building’s exterior and landscaping the grounds are complete.
Foster Falls was created around the mining industry
The children's home prior to the exterior stabilization project
The children's home near the completion of the exterior stabilization project
Now, the park staff is asking for your help. Many people come to New River Trail State Park every year trying to piece together the history of the grandparents and love ones that stayed here at the children’s home or earned their living with mining.
We are hosting “Memories of the Past” Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the grounds of the children’s home. Our goal is to capture your stories, pictures of the time period and any oral histories you can provide of this historical era.
New River Trail State Park asks that you bring any of your photographs, mementos, and artifacts capturing the history of the children’s home operations here at Foster Falls in addition, to your stories. We would like to scan copies of your photos, record your stories and take photographs of your artifacts. Help us capture this crucial history of the park’s past, while preparing to tell the stories of Foster Falls, its mining operations and its people in a future museum and interpretive programs. Light Refreshments will be provided.
For more information about this or any other event at New River Trail State Park, please contact the park office at (276) 699-6778.