Child laborers in the spinning work force of the Washington Cotton Mills, Fries, Virginia. May 1911.
New River Trail State Park is a 57.7-mile (92.9 km) rail trail and state park located entirely in southwest Virginia, extending from the trail's northeastern terminus in Pulaski to its southern terminus in Galax, with a 5.5-mile (8.9 km) spur from Fries Junction on the main trail to Fries.
Headquartered in Foster Falls, roughly a third of the trail distance from Pulaski, the crushed stone multi-use trail was formally created in 1986, when Norfolk Southern Railway donated its discontinued right-of-way to the state of Virginia. Volunteers began making improvements and the park opened in May 1987 with 4 miles (6.4 km) of trail, opening the entire 57 miles (92 km) for recreational use by the late 1990s.
The trail was designated a Millennium Legacy Trail in 1999, for reflecting "the spirit of the nation's states and territories." The 765-acre (310 ha) linear park adjoins historic sites including the 19th-century Jackson Ferry Shot Tower, the Draper Mercantile building, two turn-of-the-century hydroelectric dams, remains of the Ivanhoe Blast Furnace, the Ivanhoe Carbide Plant, the Foster Falls Blast Furnace, and the Foster Falls Orphanage, as well as numerous outdoor recreational areas, including Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, and four Department of Game and Inland Fisheries boat launches.
The trail features two tunnels, 135 feet (41 m) and 193 feet (59 m) long respectively; three major bridges (Hiwassee Bridge at 951 feet (290 m), Ivanhoe Bridge at 670 feet (200 m) and Fries Junction Bridge at 1,089 feet (332 m) in length); and almost 30 smaller bridges and trestles.