Dusting Off A Piece Of Mount Hope’s History

Mount Hope, WV – (WWNR) – As part of National Park Week, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve helped to restore a reminder of a Fayette County town’s coal mining history.

In 1942, Michael Lenson painted a mural of early 20th century coal miners on the wall of the Mount Hope Post Office. On Wednesday, the public was invited to watch David Fuerst, cultural resource program manager for the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, clean the mural of the dust and grime that had built up over 80 years.

“The painting is historic because its part of the Works Progress Administration’s FDR era adornment of different post offices around the state of West Virginia. The name of the painting is “Mining” and it shows the operations of a coal mine and it has both African-American and White coal miners working underground. It’s a theme that was very important in Mount Hope during that period of time.”

The cleaning of the Mount Hope Post Office mural highlights the opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s Crossroads: Change in Rural America exhibit in town.

Harmony of Hope is hosting the exhibit free to the public from April 22 to May 30 in Mount Hope at the historic Cottle Mountainair Hotel, 401 Main St.

The exhibit, which is sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council and National Coal Heritage, examines how Mount Hope, once a thriving coal mining community, and other West Virginia towns have bravely faced a variety of modern-day challenges.

“Here you can see in Mt. Hope how, since the heyday of coal mining in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, these towns have changed a lot. Mt. Hope is one of the poorest per capita towns in the state, so now they’re on their way back up, they’re trying to make a comeback. . . the Boy Scouts are here, their jamboree site is nearby, that’s a good thing and there are other industrial developments here that are going on. So they’re looking at a way to look forward to better days. So in a lot of ways, the cleaning of this painting is a metaphor for the hope and progress that are being looked forward to here.”

For more information about the Crossroads exhibit, contact Harmony of Hope’s Carrie Kidd at 304-860-7843.