I enjoy keeping track of Elkhorn City’s blossoming tourism industry. The past couple of weekends I have been going by the Ratliff Hole River access and looking at all the license plates from different states and counties. On Saturday July, we had visitors from as far away as Utah and a minanite family of 8 from Indiana. There were also tourists from North Carolina (3 cars), Tennessee (2 cars), Michigan (4 cars), Ohio (3 cars), and in state tourists from Fayette county, Knott County, Perry County, Lawrence County and Letcher County.
What is amazing is that I saw all these license plates at the Ratliff hole river access and only 2 or 3 of the cars where boaters. Everyone else was swimming and Tubing the river. My count of the people at 1:00 was 78 in or by the river. The river is getting just as much use during the low water in the summer as it does during the October Whitewater releases.
Since I am a frequent guest of many of our local eating establishments, I also see the impact these visitors have on our local economy. All the restaurants in Elkhorn City have been busy. Another positive this summer for Elkhorn City’s local economy has been the water park at the Breaks Interstate Park. I have observed numerous families eating at the Rusty Fork Cafe in the late afternoon after spending the day at the water park in the Breaks.
This is really a lesson in economics. I remember when the water park at the Breaks was being planned and a lot of people in Elkhorn City thought that it would not help Elkhorn City. Yet, it has helped. One way it has helped is to provide about 14 local jobs. I know of 8 young people who have jobs at the water park this summer. You also know it helps when you see 4 different families eating at the Rusty fork Cafe who have just came from the water park and are on their way home to Pikeville and Prestonsburg.
I also should mention our visitors who come through Elkhorn City along the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. My Count so far this year is 476 and that is just the ones who I saw, so we know the number is higher.
Where do we go from here? We must complete our Trail Town Certification (link to Kentucky Trail Town Document) and make Elkhorn City’s tourism infrastructure more user-friendly. I talk more about ways to do this in future posts. For now get out and enjoy the river!