Richwood, West Virginia



( Reprinted from Clarksburg Telegram of May 8, 1927 )

The City of Richwood is situated 120 miles south of Clarksburg at the southern terminus of the West Virginia and Pittsburgh branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, in the eastern corner of Nicholas county, and is the largest city within 100 miles in any direction.


The place where the city now stands was originally known as Cherry Tree Bottoms, and in the early bear-hunting and trout-fishing days was the home of the families of Spencer, Mullins and Hinkle. It became known as Richwood when the post office of that name was moved there from Hinkle Mountain about the year 1900 when Cherry River Boom and Lumber Company began its operations. The census of that year showed a population of 24, which has since grown to 7,000.

The first store in Richwood was opened by Cam Griggs in 1899. The first hotel was the Aylor House, now the Yew Pine Inn. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was completed to Richwood in the spring of 1901. The first church was the Presbyterian, built on the present site in the same year. The Town of Richwood was incorporated November 13, 1901, and E. E. Deitz was elected as the first mayor. The first bank, Richwood Banking & Trust Co., opened its doors for business November 22, 1902. The Independent School District of Richwood was established in 1903. Developments came rapidly and Richwood has been a hustling place from the very beginning. It was granted a city charter in 1921.

Chief Industries

Richwood's chief industries are a large lumber mill owned by Cherry River Boom & Lumber Company, a paper mill owned by Cherry River Paper Company: the largest sole leather tannery in the world owned by Wm. F. Mosser Company; the largest clothes pin factory in the world owned by Steel-Wallace Corporation, and a broom handle and chair round factory owned by J. O. Westcott & Son.


The annual output of these mills and factories is 4,000 cars or 60,000,000 feet of spruce and hemlock lumber; 1000 car loads or 30,000 tons of bleached and unbleached specialty papers; 300 car loads or 7,500,000 pounds of finished sole leather; 330 car loads or 300,000,000 clothespins; 240 car loads or 120,000.000 wooden dishes, and 100 car loads of broom handles and chair rounds.

Raw Material

In addition to the 60,000,000 feet of logs cut into lumber by the big mill annually, 5,000.000 feet are consumed in the manufacture of clothes pins and wooden dishes, and 3,000,000 feet for broom handles and chair rounds, and 50,000 cords of pulp wood are used in the manufacture of paper.

Other Industries

Cherry River Boom & Lumber Company has in connection with its saw mill at Richwood a lath mill and large planing mill and a machine shop equipped to handle anything from a lawn mower to a locomotive. It has 18 locomotives and 140 miles of standard gauge railroad, and produces from its own electrically-equipped coal mine at North Bond, 9 miles out of Richwood, annually 42.OOO tons of New River coal which is used by its locomotives and plants and for local domestic consumption. Said company also operates another large saw mill at Gauley Mills 20 miles from Richwood, where it produces annually 25,000,000 feet of hardwood lumber. The Long Island Kindling Wood Company has extensive yards at Richwood and ships annually 150 car loads or 2,000 cords of its products.

Forest Land

The timber for all these operations is taken from 200,000 acres of forest lands owned by said Cherry River Boom & Lumber Company In Nicholas Webster, Greenbrier, Pocahontas and Randolph counties, lying almost in one connected body and covering an area of 310 square miles, or a larger area than is covered by many of the counties of West Virginia.

Coal Supply

The Saxman Coal & Coke Company with mines and coke ovens at Saxman, three miles from Richwood. supplies most of the coal consumed by the Richwood tannery and paper mill and a great deal of the coal used for local domestic consumption. This is from the famous Sewell seam of the New River coals. The annual output of the mines is 100,000 tons. About 6,000 tons of additional coal for domestic use is shipped by local dealers from distant points.

Pay Roll

All these industries which make Richwood together employ more than 2,000 men and women. The total payroll is $250,000 per month or $3,000,000 per year.

Railroad Traffic

The total freight, passenger and express business handled through the Richwood depot is greater than that at any other depot on the Charleston Division of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, not excepting Charleston itself, and amounts to $3,000 per day or a-bout $1,000,000 per year.

Post Office

Richwood is a presidential post office of the second class, with annual postal receipts of $15,000. E. E. Deitz is the accommodating post master.

General Description

Unlike most centers of population dependent largely upon the forests or industries in wood, Richwood is not a mere town of shacks, but a real city whose chief public and business buildings are constructed of brick, stone, tile and concrete. The main streets are paved with brick and many of the alleys are of concrete. There are several miles of concrete walks. At least six miles of the streets are lighted with electricity. There is an abundance of good, pure water, a good water and sewage system and a well-equipped and effective fire department. A large, three story brick building houses the city govermncnt.

The laboring people in the main are prosperous, and many own their own homes. The tenement houses provided by the various companies are large, comfortable houses, mostly plastered, with running water, electric lights good outbuildings and neat well-fenced lawns and gardens. It is estimated that almost 1,000 of these people own their own automobiles.

Auxiliary Industries

The company store, operated under the name of Richwood Store Company is one of the largest institutions of its kind in West Virginia. It employs 32 people, carries a large stock in each of its three branches, Richwood, Gauley Mills and Three Forks, and does annual business of $750,000.

There are about 30 other stores in Richwood, including three department stores, two up-to-date drug stores and two large hardware and furniture stores. D. A, & M. E. Snyder and the Nicholas Hardware & Furniture Company. The latter carries a stock of $75,000, sells at both wholesale and retail and does an annual business of $250,000. The Richwood Wholesale Company, only four years old, carries a $40,000 stock of groceries and feed and did a business In 1926 aggregating $350,000 extending over the counties of Nicholas and Webster, and parts of Braxton and Greenbrier. The A. B. Campbell Coca Cola, Bottling Works bottles and sells about 25,000 cases of soft drinks annually. Mr. Campbell is also the local distributor for the Standard Oil Company and handled about $125,000 worth of its products last year. There are several large garages and repair shops and one large Tin Shop and Sheet Metal Works operated by Lonzo B. Smith from which skilled and well equipped mechanics turn out anything and everything known to the line. The bakery of Purtz and Hicks consumes five barrels of flour daily, making 1300 loaves of bread, and supplies the trade for many miles around Richwood. The Hamilton Plumbing Company does an extensive business in Nicholas and adjoining counties.


Three banks, Richwood Banking & Trust Co., The First National Bank and the Citizens Bank, with combined assets of $2,000,000, housed in excellent fire-proof buildings and with all modern facilities for protection against fire theft and burglary, take care of the local financial necessities.

Public Schools

The 1700 public School children of Richwood require the services of 50 tcachers and an annual expenditure of over $80.000. The Central building occupied by the Central grades and the High School, the building for the Tannery grades just being completed at a cost of $40,000. and the Gymnasium are all new, up to date, brick structures. E. A. Luzader is the present efficient superintendent, and D. E. Dean is principal of the High School. There is also a separate Catholic or parochial school.


There are five large churches and several smaller ones with a total membership of about 2,000. The new M. E Church Is a large and beautiful brick structure, costing about $70,000, which would be a credit to any city.


Two theatres cater to the amusement loving public, the Oakford and the New Star. The large, fine New Star Theatre building of steel and cinder block construction, just completed with equipment cost in the neighborhood of $50,000. The Cherry River Boom & Lumber Company and Cherry River Paper Company each also has a large modern recreation building for the benefit of its employees.


The city boasts of two hospitals, equipped with X-Ray and other modern apparatus and in charge of skilled surgeons, who perform the most difficult operations with about the same degree of safety as in the hospitals in the large cities and at a great saving in expense. The McClung Hospital and the Sacred Heart Hospital. There are ten doctors of medicine and surgery, one chiropractor and two veterinarians in the city. Two firms of undertakers and embalmers, McCutcheon and Stanley and Carskadon and Hickey take care of the dead.


The Yew Pine Inn and the New Northern are large and comfortable hotels. There are a score or more of boarding houses and three large and popular restaurants the B. & O. restaurant, Jergrens and the Owl Lunch.


The two newspapers of the cily are The Advance and the Nicholas Republican, both weeklies. Both have large, well-equipped job printing offices in connection.

A Health Resort

So that although Richwood is situated in a somewhat remote and secluded section, at the western base of the Allegheny mountains, she has most of the conveniences of a modern city and everything necessary to make life comfortable. The pure rippling water of her mountain streams: the cool, fresh air of her 2.200 feet of elevation: her rugged mountain scenery, made more beautiful by the wild flowers of summer and gorgeous with the tinted leaves, of autumn; the lure of the trout and the wild game, all unite to make Richwood a most healthful and pleasant place to live and to form the features which will transform the entire surrounding region into a great tourists' camp and summer resort when the coming of a through hard road shall make this possible.

The Future

Although the timber is being cut at the rate of 30 acres per day the future of Richwood is not so limited as one upon first thought might imagine for a forest town. As an industrial center Richwood is only 27 years old. Officials who in the year 1900 gave her only 25 years in which to live, today calculate that there is still timber enough to keep her big saw mill going at the present rate for 15 years more This will probably be greatly extended by the growth of timber, by timbers not formerly marketable coming into use and by additional purchases. There is an abundance of timber suitable for clothespins, wooden dishes, broom handles and chair rounds on lands already cut over to last several generations. Pulp wood will grow as fast as the paper mill will consume it. The present soft-wood paper mill can easily be converted into a hard wood plant. New processes of manufacture and new uses of wood will be discovered which will bring about new industries

A few months ago many thought the tannery was preparing to leave us. Today we are told that it is as permanent as any tannery anywhere. A half million dollars in buildings and improvements is too large to abandon, too expensive to move; too much time would be lost in making the change. The extra amount paid for freight in hauling in hides and extracts and hauling out the finished leather is more than offset by the cheaper labor, freedom from strikes and better labor conditions. The Tannery is here to stay.

The Steele-Wallace Corporation has-been seriously considering an addition to its plant for the manufacture of paper dishes.

The Eakin Lumber Company is building a new band mill at Fenwick, only two miles away, which will saw 30,000 feet or lumber daily, employ at least 100 additional men for the next ten years and add over $100.000 to our annual pay roll.

Gas Prospects

Gas has recently been discovered in paying quantities in the northern part or Nlcholas county and about 300,000 acres or land in the county, including lage boundaries near Richwood. have been placed under lease at $1.00 per acre per year. Eighteen producing gas wells have been drilled with an average daily capacity of one million cubic feet or gas each, and the drilling is going on with increased momentum. A large gas pipe line extcnding 30 miles long has just been completed to these wells at a cost of $700,000. The gas is going to market, and Richwood will feel the result.

Undeveloped Coal

The entire Gauley River basin is underlaid with the Sewell seam of the New River Coals. "the best coal in the world, known to be of good workable thickness between Cranberry rives and Persinger Run where it outcrops along Gauley. Only a railroad along Gauley is needed to turn this valley into a seething hive of industry. Civil engineers are now putting the finishing touches on the final survey for the extension of the New York Central railroad up Gauley from Swiss to the mouth of Meadow River, it will come on up Gauley at least as far as Curtin with a possible branch into Richwood. Richwood will be the chief supply depot for the new mining towns and the home of many of the miners and operators and their families. Richwood Is here to stay, to grow and to prosper.

Farm Products

Richwood alone consumes annually $500,000 worth of farm products, that should not be shipped in as at present by rail from other counties and other states, but some in new and fresh from the surrounding farms.

A Natural Center

Richwood as the largest town in 100 miles, with mills and factories which run unceasingly sometimes both day and night is the natural and logical community center and trade center for the surrounding country as far north as Webster Springs, as far east as Marlinton and as far west as Summersville. We have in our large stores, shops and offices, banks, hospitals, schools, churches and theatres the supplies, services, instruction, entertainment and amusements which these farmers and their families need, and for which they will come if we invite them, and the way is made easy. The Curtin saw mills have completed their operations. It should be made possible for the large surplus of farm labor unexcelled for efficiency, which was employed in the Curtin mills to work in our Richwood industries and board at home and for their children to attend our high school.


We already have a fair dirt road across the mountains to Summersville with branch to Quinwood; but the one great need for Richwood right now is a hard surfaced road down Cherry river connecting her with this great future mining region along Gauley, with the fine farming sections around Craigsville and Cowen, with Route 15, and Route 4, with the county-seat at Summersville, with the state capital at Charleston, with Clarksburg and the outside world; connecting the two big mills of Cherry River Boom & Lumber Company at Richwood and Gauley Mills in four miles less distance than by rail and making easy, cheap and quick communication possible with the people with whom we daily transact business.

Other Needs

Richwood also needs a laundry and an ice plant, and a board of trade to advertise the city and bring in new people and new industries.


Since the above article. was written the road from main Richwood to Dain has been hard-surfaced and $350,000 in bonds voted to complete and hard-surface The road from Dain down Cherry to Craigsville and through Beaver district from Camden-on-Gauley towards Summersville to within 7 miles of Route 4; and work will begin on same at once; plans are. being considered for roads up Big Laurel to thc new coal mines on Big Clear Creek and up North Fork of Cherry to Marlinton; the Eakin Lumber Co. saw mill with a capacity of 40,000 ft. of lumber per day has been completed; an addition has been made to the Westcott Handle Factory and its capacity doubled; the Nicholas Hardware has erected a large three story fire-proof addition; The Youivanis brick and tile business house on Main street has been erected; the Richwood Wholesale Company has doubled its capital stock and is preparing to take care of its increasing business; money has been subscribed for a new, larger and better Catholic School building to be erected this summer; plans are under way for a new coal operation near Holcomb, and prospects for the extension of a railroad into the coal fields along Gauley River have greatly brightened. Richwood is really progressing.






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Where:         City Of Richwood
When:          Reprinted from Clarksburg Telegram of May 8, 1927
Submitted by:  Lowell Blake, Lexington, KY

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