This is a time of significant change for the Kump Education Center. Now the metamorphosis from a private, family farm to a public heritage and recreational center is under way.
Ten days ago, a bulldozer and backhoe from Polino Constructing Inc., plus 10 highway-grade culverts from Valley Supply, appeared in the back pasture at Kump Center. The next day, City of Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley sent two highly skilled excavators, Clyde Ogden and Donnie Hedrick, to operate the equipment.
Before long, a path was cut through the pasture for a safer driveway coming into Seneca Road where cars and buses will meet less traffic than they have entering Randolph Avenue from the historic driveway. The old Kump smokehouse and traditional root cellar had to be removed because they were seriously undermined by uncontrolled runoff from a defective highway drain along Seneca Road. Where the outbuildings once stood, a bus turning area began taking shape against the hillside.
Below the old driveway, the Davis & Elkins College Sustainability Studies Program has sponsored the Fourth Ward Community Garden for the last five summers. Also, the community garden has sustained water damage from the Department of Highways runoff, but measures taken to protect the bus turning-lane and historic barn should protect the garden. Three years ago D&E also added 30 heritage apple trees in the old Kump orchard. These trees soon will produce apples as part of the sustainability efforts.
When the culverts, road fabric and gravel all are in place, the new Kump Center driveway will be ready for school and tour buses. Throughout the school year, the Center will host environmental science wetland exploration and water monitoring activities for children.
The new driveway should be done in time for visitors to enjoy the Kump Center's historic exhibition featuring 1930s Forest Festival memorabilia. It will focus on signature festival traditions like the first queen's coronation dress, photos of Franklin Roosevelt's 1936 presidential campaign stop in Elkins and the Knights of the South Branch Valley.