Submitted by Phyllis Slater.
Woodlands was a tree covered wilderness when J. P. Hornbrook bought land at the mouth of Fish Creek on the River Ohio, divided it into lots and called the prospective community Woodlands. He built a store as did newcomer J. W. Wellman and the area began to grow. A county road led into the community from Birch and Rine Ridges and Fish Creek. Later the railroad was built, calling for a bridge, a station and railroad switches.
A few years after the bridge was built it caught fire. Samuel P. Miller, who lived within sight of the bridge, saw the fire and ran nearly half a mile to stop an appoaching train. A few years later, two freight trains collided on the bridge, their crews killed. Both times the bridge was "out of order" passengers were transported across the creek in rowboats to a train waiting on the other side.
A number of trains passed through the community daily, taking on and picking up passengers at the Woodlands Station. The "local" stopped at all stations between Wheeling and New Martinsville, delivering not only passengers, but groceries and supplies to the stores in the area. Other trains carried out lumber, lime and coal.
Woodlands also developed as a shipping point; the wharf, a stopping point for steamboats such as the Helen E., the Senator Cordell or the Liberty, stopping daily to pickup summer produce for the Wheeling markets.
When the government began construction on Dam 14 it brought newcomers to settle the community. More workers and their families came to the area when the third train bridge was built. This job required underwater work and some of the workers were veterans of the Holland Tunnel (New York) construction.
Woodlands Coal Mine shaft was opened and the community of Captina was established nearby. A short time later a new mine was to open across the river in Ohio, but a tragic explosion killing many miners halted those plans.
State Rt. 2 developed first as a two-lane gravel road; later a concrete highway. A pontoon bridge was put across the creek until a highway bridge was built.
The residents enjoyed a variety of activities. Showboats came often in the summer; they were always a sell-out. On show nights a caliope summoned the people to the wharf. At mailtime, the neighbors gathered at the post office, a good excuse to exchange news and buy groceries. On Saturday nights there were dances at Bowen's Dance Hall. In the winter, the neighbors gathered at Miller's Store around the potbellied stove to visit and enjoy apples and popcorn often provided by their host. Bowen's Park was well known for picnics, reunions, weiner roasts and other affairs. Swimming and fishing were popular too. (The women who were confined at the prison at Moundsville were brought to this park, each summer for a picnic).
At one time the community boasted three stores, a confectionary, poolroom, barbershop, boarding house, park, school and later a church. Economy and prosperity flourished until the depression. The coal mine closed, never to open again. In 1960, many homes and building were lost to the new four-lane Rt 2. The post office was moved to Proctor. Hanna Coal Co. bought most of the land west of the railroad and removed several buildings. The old Dam 14 was removed, raising the river stage so the park was underwater. The railroad station closed when passenger service ended.
Today, "Woodlands" is but about six houses, the railroad tracks and the highway. At one time, it was considered the "busiest little community on the Ohio River".