There’s a national storyline about West Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania, and it goes something like this: As the steel and coal industries fade, small towns are dying out. But for the past twenty years, some entrepreneurs have quietly been working on a different narrative, one that harnesses the natural beauty in these areas to build the economy.
About 10 years ago, after being downsized from a job in computer sales, Rod Darby wanted control of his career. He drew up a business plan for a pub and restaurant in West Newton, a small Pennsylvania town along the still-developing Great Allegheny Passage. The GAP bike trail, as its known, stretches 150 miles, from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland. Darby shopped his pub idea around.