Virgie is located in an extreme southwestern part of Pike County close to the Letcher County border along state highways 610 and 1469.
Virgie High School first opened its doors to students in 1939. The school mascot was an the eagles and the school colors were blue and white. In 1990 Virgie High School would graduate its final high school graduating class. The following year high school students from the area would attend the new Shelby Valley High School. When Shelby Valley opened its doors from the merger of Virgie and Dorton High Schools, the new school took the mascot of Dorton, the wildcat and the school colors from virgie, blue and white.
The school building was then used as a middle school for a number of years. By 2009 enrollment had fallen to 264 at the school and plans were being made for construction of a new consolidated K-8 school to be located near the high school. That school would mean the closure of Robinson Creek Elementary, GF Johnson Elementary School (which I will have more information about in this blog in a later entry) and Virgie Middle School.
Virgie Middle School closed at the end of the 2012-13 school year and Valley Elementary, Pike County’s largest school opened its doors that fall to more than 1,000 students. A link to a news story covering that first day can be found by clicking HERE
With the completion of the railroad and the bridge across the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River in Elkhorn City, eastern Pike County and southwest Virginia was linked to the Kentucky Coalfields via railway.
The bridge was completed in 1912. After the completion the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railroad and the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railroad were junctioned up and Elkhorn City became a hub of action and traffic because this is where the two railways interchanged. More information and photos about Elkhorn City and the vital role that this town played in coal transportation will come in this blog when I cover the Elkhorn City Railroad Museum at a later date. Until then check out this website for more information and historical pictures: CLICK HERE
Some years back some buddies of mine and myself went up to West Virginia, somewhere between Logan and Charleston and went to a paintball range. While up there I noticed this mall sitting on the hill in South Williamson, Kentucky, literally within walking distance of the Kentucky / West Virginia line.
I think what caught my eye mostly at the time was the fact that there was a Magic Mart, and aside from the Magic Mart in my home town of Harlan, Kentucky, I had never saw a Magic Mart store in an enclosed mall.
When the mall opened in September of 1981 it was originally anchored my Kroger, SuperX, Dawahares and R.H. Hobbs. The Kmart opened a few months later. By 1983 the R.H. Hobbs Department store had closed down and the space had been taken over my Watsons. The anchor line up would remain largely unchanged until 1998 when Watson’s was sold to Peebles, thus bringing Peebles to Eastern Pike County. In 2002 when Kmart had their big round of store closings the South Williamson location was among them. This space would soon be taken over by Magic Mart.
I have searched and tried to find when the Kroger at this mall closed but I cant find a definite date. I am thinking probably sometime in the early 2000’s. I did however get in contact with someone who sent me some interesting interior pictures from this location. The following photos of the interior of this Kroger store are not mine, but were too interesting not to share.
This was actually an interesting make over for the greenhouse style store in my opinion.
These stores filled the space that was vacated once Dawahares closed this location when the chain went out of business in 2008.
Interestingly enough, the mall directory has not been updated since and still lists Dawahares as being an anchor.
I arrived at the mall just before 10, so a lot of the stores were not open yet. Of course Magic Mart and Dollar Tree were open, but a lot of the in line mall stores were not.
The mall has a 4 screen theater in the back across from Sears and beside Magic Mart.
The rear exit of the mall
My favorite aspect of this mall? …..Check this out.
They put a Game Stop store in the lawn and garden exit of the Kmart. Perfect fit!
I love that the mall management took the initiative to advertise for this mall. This billboard was located along a busy stretch of US 119 about a mile north of the mall.
The mall entrance to Magic Mart. Which, by the way is a really neat store in my opinion. Upon further research I have determined that this is, in fact the only location of Magic Mart within an enclosed mall.
The former auto center space of Kmart is now occupied by a local shop.
All in all I would say, considering the relatively small town atmosphere this mall is located in, and the fact that a Walmart Super Center sits directly across US 119 from it, this mall is doing very well. There are some empty spaces in the mall, but by the time I left at about 11am the mall was fairly busy for a Friday morning. I would say the advertising and mall management has been a key to keeping this mall alive when so many others have failed or are failing. Live on Southside mall and I will see you soon.