Tube park opening celebrated

Representatives from across Tucker County and West Virginia attended Canaan Valley Resort State Park’s grand opening ceremony for the completion of its nearly $2 million tube park on Friday.

The ribbon cutting ceremony took place inside the tube park’s warming hut as the rain fell outside on the longest tube park in the Mid Atlantic region.

Robert Gilligan, superintendent of Canaan Valley State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park, began the ceremony by thanking the many individuals and entities that were involved in making the tube park and other improvements to the ski area a reality.

“This park is one of the gems of the West Virginia State Park system,” said the Secretary of West Virginia Department of Commerce, Keith Burdette, at the opening celebration. “(The tube park) is an exciting new amenity for this park.”

“Good things are happening in West Virginia and in our state park system,” said the chief of West Virginia State Parks, Ken Caplinger, during Friday’s ceremony. “Canaan Valley is huge and it inspires great ideas.”

“The ski area improvements and the additional facilities of the Tube Park and beginners’ downhill ski area create a broader outdoor recreation experience for state park visitors,” Gilligan said. “It also helps extend tourism interested to Blackwater Falls State Park, Tucker County and surrounding areas.”

Wiseman Construction, Inc. completed the construction of the $2 million Tube Park and warming hut which was designed by Chapman Technical Group, based out of St. Albans. Other improvements made at Canaan Valley Resort’s ski area include a new beginner ski slope with a magic carpet surface lift to be used by the Resort’s ski school for teaching purposes. Physical improvements were also made to the ski lodges located at the base of Canaan Valley Resort’s ski area.

J.F. Allen Company, based out of Buckhannon, worked to improve the resort’s snow making capabilities by laying 24,000 feet of new piping to supply approximately 50 new snow guns for snowmaking capabilities.

The resort’s former tube park, which only had four lanes, was located next to the beginner slope at Canaan’s ski area and had been in use for over 12 years.

Construction of the new tube park began in May of 2012 and the majority of the work was substantially completed in Jan. 2013. Representing Chapman Technical Group, Joe Bird said some minor work is still needed in order to finish the project, primarily at the warming hut.

The new tube park currently has eight tube lanes in operation, but can hold up to twelve lanes. Michael Chaney, ski area manager for Canaan Valley Resort, said a magic carpet surface lift was installed to transport tubers from the bottom of the slope to the top. All that tubers have to do is grab a tube and walk onto the gradually moving magic carpet, which Chaney said is capable of pulling up to 150 tubers at one time.

Chaney said he expects the new Tube Park to hold a maximum of 250 tubers at one time. Brand new lights have also been installed to allow night tubing, like night skiing at the ski area, on Friday and Saturday nights until 8 p.m.

During the warm, summer months, a sporting clay facility will be opened in the summer of 2013 at the Tube Park, said Frank Jezioro, the director of the state Division of Natural Resources.

He also said the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra will still perform for the annual Celebration of the Arts held at the Tube Park’s current location annually.

“The potential is unlimited,” Jezioro said.

The new tube park is one of the many ways Canaan Valley State Park is making improvements to compete in next half century, including a $26 million investment to build 168 new hotel rooms at Canaan Valley Resort’s main lodge.

Hours of operation for the new tube will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and on holiday Sundays. Tubing will last for two hour intervals. The Tube Park’s warming hut contains a ticket office, restrooms and a snack bar.