Eighty-five years ago, Bobbie Gullett was born into coal country when Dante, Virginia, was a bustling municipality of 6,000. Now Gullett and her friend Lou Wallace are part of the Dante Community Association, which aims to make Dante an ecotourism hub where information economy workers can live and work remotely. The town will close two mineshafts in the hills and build a series of hiking, ATV and mountain biking trails that should be open by May, when the mountain laurels bloom. Students at Virginia Tech are designing prototypes for smart houses that can be built in the hollows where coalmining families once lived, and broadband internet is coming to town this spring. "Coal is not renewable, said Wallace. We have to be OK with a building becoming something else, with change and renewal.

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