On Friday morning, officials held a grand opening and ribbon cutting at the new Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Interpretive Center. The center features various exhibits designed to bring a major part of the region’s history to life.
“This facility will not only be a place to promote and host local and regional meetings and events, but more importantly, it will tell the story of the over 200,000 people that traveled the Wilderness Road, from their point of view,” said Robert Chapman, park manager at Natural Tunnel State Park.
An idea is born
The idea for the center first began to form in 2002 under the leadership of Bob McConnell. Two years later, David Redwine, a member of the Scott County Board of Supervisors, said he and a couple other county leaders flew to Iowa to see the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which they hoped to use as a model for the Daniel Boone facility.
Workers at the Lewis and Clark center graciously shared the building plans with the Scott County group, Redwine said. From there, county leaders modified the plans slightly and began moving forward with the project.
After many years of work, the center was finally completed last year and opened to the public last winter. Several organizations and government entities provided funds for the construction, while others funded the exhibits.
About the center
The facility covers more than 10,000 square feet and includes a theatre and museum displays highlighting the story of early settlers, who followed Daniel Boone’s westward trail through the Cumberland Gap. The building also features a research library, conference room and gift shop.
The center serves as a regional tourism gateway, connecting visitors to other historical and cultural stops, such as Natural Tunnel State Park, Wilderness Road State Park and Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Virginia State Parks operates the center as a satellite of Natural Tunnel State Park.
A long time coming
Several regional and state leaders spoke at Friday’s ceremony, including Chapman; Redwine; Craig Seaver, director of Virginia State Parks; Clyde Cristman, director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; Del. Terry Kilgore; Sen. Bill Carrico; and Rep. Morgan Griffith.
Each one commented on the length of the project but noted that the many years of hard work were well worth it.
“It’s an example of what dedication, hard work and perseverance can do,” Redwine said, “if you want it bad enough for your community.”