McDowell County

Coal Country

Named after Governor James McDowell in 1858, McDowell County is located deep in the heart of coal country. The largest coal producing county in the world for many years, it fueled the steel industry and was responsible for the making of weapons and ships that won WWI and II.

The county seat is Welch, located at the forks of the Tug River and Elkhorn Creek. The city is noted for having the first World War I memorial building and the first municipally owned and operated parking building, and a nationally recognized historic district diverse in architecture and cultural styles.

The county’s present day fame is the setting for “Rocket Boys,” a novel by Homer Hickam that traces the story of a few boys from Coalwood whose innovations and aspirations in the art of rocket science gained the town national recognition.

McDowell County is home to two trail off-road systems in the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trails family: the Indian Ridge Trail System and the Warrior Trail System. Indian Ridge has 75+ miles and the Warrior Trail System has 65+ miles or rugged terrain.

The remote wilderness in this region offers renowned hunting opportunities. While many counties offer gun hunting during deer season, McDowell only permits bow hunting. Great Wildlife Experiences Await You! Call the McDowell County Commission for more information on the area, 304-436-8548.