Whitesburg KY

Chamber spotlights Wiley’s Last Resort

The Letcher County Chamber of Commerce regularly recognizes various businesses and organizations that are part of the Chamber’s efforts. This month the Chamber is spotlighting Wiley’s Last Resort, an unusual business that has been a part of the Chamber’s efforts ever since Wiley’s was founded in 1996.

Wiley’s Last Resort is a primitive campground, music venue and nature preserve on Pine Mountain. It rose out of the ashes of a 1995 fire that destroyed the lodge that was the last vestige of the old Pine Mountain Resort that operated in the late ’40s and early ’50s. The old resort was operated along with the Pine Mountain Hotel by G. Dewey Polly. who also operated the Coca Cola Bottling Plant that is now the Community College.

Jim Webb, of WMMT-FM and a former president of the Chamber, is the proprietor and has spent more than a decade restoring the resort to its former glory. Over the years since 1996, musicians who have performed at Wiley’s include the Metropolitan Blues All- Stars, Glen Simpson, the Greencards, Bonepony, Ras Alan & the Lions, the Non- Dairy Creamers, Carla Gover, Dave Isaacs, Mitch Barrett, Rob McNurlin and Minnie More. Various groups including Boy Scouts, college groups, environmental groups, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, church groups, Rotary, Appalshop and WMMT, and Minnie More have enjoyed the camping, hiking, swimming, boating and communing with nature at Wiley’s.

Wiley’s Last Resort is embarking on an ambitious program to build a stage in the old Pine Mountain Sand Quarry and a solar-powered stage on a 4 1.2-acre flat that provides a spectacular view of the stars and sky. The hoped-for completion date for the next two stages is spring 2010 in time for next year’s tourist season. Webb has moved the Webb family ancestral home, built by his great-grandparents circa 1837, from Bottom Fork to Pine Mountain and has also added a couple of Airstreams to the mix. In addition, campsites are gradually being developed throughout the 90 acres of the resort.

Of special note is an upcoming event at Wiley’s Last Resort, the second annual MARS Fest featuring musicians from throughout the region including Carla Gover, Mic Harrison & the High Five, Woody Pines, Clack Mountain Honky Tonk, the Nick Stump Trio, Dave Isaacs Trio, Wishing Chair, Rob McNurlin, Mitch Barrett, the fervor, Non- Dairy Creamers and Minnie More. In addition there will be 15 artists, readings by Kentucky poet laureate Gurney Norman, nature walks, hiking, swimming, and boating. The festival gets its name from the sand quarry, which has been called Mars by young folks for years. In 2009, MARS stands for music, art, re-creation, Sustainability.

Those involved in the event include Joel Beverly and Amelia Kirby of Summit City, Brett Ratliff, John Haywood, Pam Oldfield Meade, Dave Fields and Minnie More, and all hope this festival on Pine Mountain, Kentucky’s second highest mountain, will become another important piece in Letcher County’s Tourism Development puzzle. Tickets are $25 for the weekend and are available at Summit City and from Jim Webb. For more information, call (606) 633- 7006 or visit www.wileyslastresort.com.

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