Turkey Spur overlook at Grandview State Park reopened Friday with help from the National Park Service (NPS) and Friends of New River Gorge National River (Friends), who raised over $20,000 in four months to renovate the property.
Significant improvements had been made to the overlook’s boardwalk and steps in 2015, only to have them burned by a fire a few months later. The fire started as arson and quickly spread, burning 35 acres of the forest.
The fire wiped out much of the newly improved overlook, bringing staff back to the beginning.
Members of NPS and Friends hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the reopening and all the hard work they have achieved since the past damage.
Debbie Cooper, secretary of the Friends board, said they held several fundraisers to achieve their financial goal, as well as support from many donors and supporters.
“I’m from here, and I grew up here,” Cooper said, “And we have so much here to offer in West Virginia and I am proud I get to be a part of this celebration.”
Turkey Spur has held many memories for people over the years, from first dates to proposals to weddings, and according to Lizzie Watts, Superintendent of the New River Gorge National River, it has been a place to simply just go and reflect.
“Turkey Spur is such a spiritual place,” said Watts. “Yes, it is a great place to go with a group of friends, but even just going alone provides you with so much fulfillment.”
Watts said there was no better time to celebrate the reopening than on the Fourth of July weekend.
“Having national parks is a way to give a thank you back to Americans,” Watts said, “This is their weekend.”
Julena Campbell, spokesperson for the New River Gorge National River, said she is very excited the renovation happened much quicker than what she anticipated.
“We’ve had so much help from donors and everything else and it’s just a great feeling to finally give back to the people here,” Campbell said.
Campbell said she is not originally from this area, so seeing all of the love and support go into this made it really special for her.
“I was amazed at how many came together to make this happen,” Campbell said. “It’s truly great to be a part of.”
So, although fire damage put plans at standstill for many, NPS and Friends are ready to give it back.
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