Bailey is a resident of Pineville and a member of the Wyoming County Economic Development Board. She explained that the Coal Heritage Highway Authority and the Coal Heritage Area Authority were designed by the National Park Service to recommend local spots for preservation as part of the scenic byways program.
"It is promoted through the federal government," she said. "The Coal Heritage Area is one of 40 heritage areas designated because o a nationally known historically significant story. It is part of the industrial development of our country and that part of history. Remember, without coal you would not have had a steel manufacturing industry."
Some 12 communities are a part of the National Park Service designated areas and have a mission of using tourism to boost economic development. Bailey said Kentucky is trying to start a similar program and that her agency is working with them.
"Downtown Bluefield was revitalized as well as the Depot in Hilton. McDowell County's Company Store will be renovated too. We are working with folks on the John Henry Historical Park," she said.
Bailey's group can help other organizations in tourism help find funding for coal heritage projects, such as the Paint Creek Scenic Trail. "It is also a scenic byway," she said. Currently Bailey's organization is working on the New River building in Mount Hope and is setting up offices there and a gift shop. It is expected to be finished by 2013. She said that when it is done a national Boy Scout Jamboree will bring thousands to the town.
Another project in McDowell County is to set up a park near one of Henry Ford's old mines. One in Logan is the Country Roads Scenic Byways Interpretive Center which will be located on the corridor. Funding is in place and the design plans are done. The center will be a visitors' center with displays for the public and brochures about local amenities.
"We are also working on a museum in Boone County," she said, noting that the Beckley Exhibition coal mine gets 55,000 visitors a year. "It is one of our biggest projects. We try to get people to visit smaller communities which are more authentic."
The Matewan Depot and Hawks Nest Rail Trail are also projects Baileys' organizations are involved with.
"We are always looking for coal heritage projects, like the Williamson Railroad Museum," she said, noting that locally heritage tourism brought in $4.3 billion in new money to West Virginia in 2008 and helped support 44,000 jobs.
Unfortunately the Obama administration has slashed budgets for heritage tourism projects to the bone, she noted.