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Marion County, WV Commission Hears Funding Request for Virtual Ride in a Mine Project



September 15, 2023 - On Wednesday morning, the Northern Appalachian Coal Mining Heritage Association (NACMHA) requested $15,000 from the Marion County Commission to help complete a virtual “ride in a mine” project it’s building in the county.

NACMHA President Mike Rohaly attended Wednesday morning’s commission meeting to give county officials an overview of the project, which he believes will not only preserve coal mining heritage in the region, but boost tourism, as well.


During a Marion County Commission meeting Wednesday, NACMHA President Mike Rohaly explains the association’s plans for a virtual “ride in a mine” attraction to be built in Marion County. 

  • Staff photo by John Mark Shaver

The attraction, which is already partially built, will be located near Coal Country Mini Golf right off I-79, Exit 137. Rohaly explained that the riders will sit in a four-person “mine vehicle” that will sit on rails in a room designed to authentically look like an underground mine.

A video will be projected onto a wall in front of the passengers — with the vehicle moving in sync — giving participants a virtual taste of what it’s like to enter and ride through a coal mine.

“This helps keep our heritage alive, and will add tourist traffic in the area, which means a positive impact to the local community in the region,” Rohaly said. “We believe it will also have an impact as a ‘pointer’ to different counties, and we think it will help increase cooperation with neighboring counties in sharing events and sharing points of interest.”

So far, NACMHA has spent more than $97,300 on the project, although another $81,500 is estimated to complete the ride in a mine attraction.

“We are doing things, and we’re not coming in asking (the commission) to help get us off the ground,” Rohaly said. “We’re permitted.”

Rohaly said that any funds the commission would give to the project would likely go toward outfitting the project’s vehicle with motion technology. He added that the association is seeking funding from other counties in the area, as well.

Rohaly said that the attraction is planned to be operated seasonally, with maintenance being performed on the vehicle in the interim. He added that he projects around 8,000 people will ride the attraction annually, producing roughly $40,000 per year in revenue, although maybe not during the first year of operation.

Rohaly hopes to have the project completed and open by June 2024.

While the commission took interest in funding the project, no official decisions regarding it were made during Wednesday’s meeting.