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Exhibit Opening: Discovering the Appalachian Forest

New exhibit in Elkins provides a glimpse into local forest heritage


Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is proud to unveil their brand new exhibit to the public: Discovering the Appalachian Forest. The exhibit will be open for the first time during an open house on Friday, November 8th from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday, November 9th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The display is located at the historic Darden Mill building, which is located at the intersection of Railroad Avenue and First Street in Elkins.

“Discovering the Appalachian Forest exhibit introduces the stories of the forest and how people interact with it,” said exhibit designer Molly Swailes, an AFHA AmeriCorps member. “ Exhibit visitors can get a taste the forest’s natural splendors, its historic significance, its place in industry, and its influence on local lives and hearts.”  

Using both historic and modern photos, the exhibit explores four theme topics – natural forest, forestry, forest history, and Appalachian culture -- developed by volunteers active with Appalachian Forest Heritage Area. The exhibit was funded in part by a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

Currently open for special events and by appointment, the exhibit will be the cornerstone of the Appalachian Forest Discovery Center,  which will provide interpretation, gift shop, and information about visiting the entire 18-county Appalachian Forest Heritage Area.  Slated to open for regular hours in spring of 2014, the Darden Mill will also house the West Virginia Railroad Museum. The Darden Mill is owned and operated by Citizens for Historic Opportunity, Preservation and Education (C-HOPE), which renovated the building.

On Saturday, November 9th from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. the Appalachian Forest exhibit open house will culminate in an event for the whole family: Tucker’s Big Bash, also located at the Darden Mill. This event will be a celebration of a brand new West Virginia children's book, The Pests that Girdle the Home of Tucker the Turtle. The book has been a project of AFHA and the Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area, and tells the story of a native turtle whose home has been impacted by non-native invasive species. The book will be available for purchase at the event, which will also include a book reading, an art auction of the sixteen original watercolors, hands-on activities for children, snacks, and live music.

Both the exhibit open house and Tucker’s Big Bash are great ways to learn about local forest industry, culture, and history. Come learn about the forest’s past and find out what you can do to secure its future!

Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is a nonprofit organization working in 18 counties of the central Appalachian highlands in West Virginia and Maryland. The organization works to build regional partnerships and to provide heritage tourism development and conservation assistance through volunteer activities and the AFHA AmeriCorps program.  For more information call 304-636-6182, or email


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