Clifton went through several names, depending on the owners of the mines in the hillside. When the Wilson mines were purchased by H. D. DANIELS and others in 1866, the name was changed to the Clifton Mines, and the name also included the dozen or so houses that were there.
In 1867, two salt furnaces, The Bedford and the Virginia were erected and Clifton became one of the Bend Area Salt Towns. Later two other furnaces were added, they were the Quaker and the Newcastle.
The Standard Nail and Iron Company, formerly named the Clifton Nail Works, was built in 1867. It manufactured various kinds of nails and spikes. By the time the mill was in operation 30 dwellings had been built. In 1868, the Jones Keg Mill was operating and supplying kegs for the mill.
On Jan. 15, 1858, a post office was opened with W. H. GILCRIST as postmaster.
In 1867, General WILLIAM HENRY POWELL, superintendent of the nail mill, built an elegant two story brick residence on a hillside site. The house was built with Italianate brick, several thicknesses at the bottom and fewer at the top. It was purchared in 1988 by DON and MARTY RADER and is now known as the Rader House. In 1983, it was registered with the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1871 SQUIRE SHANK's novelty wood works were making washing machines, bread boards, rolling pins, coffins and rough boxes. Most of the work was done by SHANK's sons, EDGAR, CHARLES, FRED, GEORGE and JIM.
The new Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated April 13, 1873. The church was a brick edifice, and undoubtedly the finest of its denomination on the West Virginia side of the river.
Clifton's first public schools were taught in various rooms and buildings until 1874, when they opened in a three story brick building, erected with the help of the Masonic Lodge of Clifton, who used the top floor as a meeting place. The bricks in the building were hand pressed, kiln dried, and sun burned. GEORGE E. MATTHEWS was the first superintendent of the new school.
In 1879 Clifton's population was 693, and still growing, but it never reached the thousands predicted for it.
The sudden growth was favorable to the hotel business. SQUIRE SHANK established the United States Hotel, and a Mr. SUMMERVILLE built the Virginia Hotel at the head of the ferry landing.
Like other salt plants, the ones in Clifton began to lose ground. Two were sold, and resold, then closed. Damage caused by the 1883 flood caused the Quaker and the Virginian to remain inoperative permanently.
The Standard Nail and Iron Works had 5,000 kegs of nails under water in the 1884 flood. It did not die, however. It just started to migrate. First it went to Middleport, and finally to Columbus, Ohio.
On Friday, April 7, 1893, shortly after noon, burning soot from the stack of a pumping battery fell on an old nearby building. A high wind was blowing. The old Bedford Salt plant and forty-two other buildings - twenty-six dwelling houses, three stores and seven barns quickly disappeared. The other fourth of the town would have met the same fate had not the Middleport Fire Company come to the aid of its sister town. With the destruction of the salt plant went Clifton's last remaining industry.
Clifton's ferry boat, the Acorn, built in 1861, was owned in the 1890's by MRS. JESSIE REDMOND, daughter-in-law of B. J. REDMOND. In March of 1895, the ferry boat took fire in mid-river from an exploding lamp and burned up. But by July of that year, MRS. REDMOND's Little Ben, much superior to the Acorn, was in business with PETE SHUTT and JEFF GARDNER in charge.
Last update November 25, 2003