The recent approval of Elkhorn City as the seventh Kentucky Trail Town marks the successful culmination of an effort assisted by a group of EKU faculty members and students.
A cross-disciplinary team composed of students and faculty from the Department of Recreation and Park Administration and the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work were part of an EKU-Elkhorn City Heritage Council partnership that included a series of site visits, interviews with leaders and other local residents, teleconference calls and grant-writing projects. The initiative was directed by Dr. Stephanie McSpirit, sociology professor, and Dr. Michael Bradley from the Department of Recreation and Park Administration.
Three Recreation and Park Administration classes worked on site, helping the Council develop a commercial recreation plan for the city as well as appropriate signage for trail access points and environmental education. One graduate-level class conducted an in-depth user assessment that measured tourists’ expenditures and satisfaction.
Elkhorn City wasn’t the only beneficiary of the project. Students gained skills in community assessment, planning and development, as well as personal communication, planning interpretive services and developing business plan.
The Elkhorn City Project was funded by a small University grant from the Robert Welch Foundation as well as financial contributions from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work, and the Appalachian Studies Program.
The Kentucky Trail Town Program is designed to help connect communities to trail systems and help develop them as tourist destinations. It will guide travelers to trails, food, lodging, campgrounds, museums, entertainment and other services.
Elkhorn City is the seventh Trail Town to be certified, joining Dawson Springs, Livingston, Morehead, Olive Hill, London and Stearns.