I've long been a fan of what Leadville, Colorado, did to save itself from the mines closing. I knew about it because I love the Leadville 100 run and mountain bike races they created which drew a huge community of runners and bicyclists.
But a Virginia coal town...yikes, that sounds hard to save. Unless? You brand a beautiful, twisting 32-mile stretch of Highway 16 as the “Back of the Dragon?!!”
If you're a sports car enthusiast or motorcyclist, you probably know about Deal's Gap that branded a stretch of road “Tail of the Dragon” with 11 miles featuring 318 turns. Brilliant. It became internationally famous and drew tons of business.
So Tazeville, Virginia, is now the gateway to Back of the Dragon, with a new welcome center, shops, and a renovated jail that's now an awesome hotel. Love it.