McDowell County - Lumber Companies & Railroads- 1899 - 1904


That dashing, pushing enterprising lumberman, Mr. Buford of the Northfork Lumber Company has added a second locomotive to his equipment. He sent the thing through the mines to the mill on North Fork of Tug.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph, January 21, 1899


Lumber companies operating throughout McDowell County built the first railroads in McDowell. They graded and lay narrow-gauged tracks and created switchbacks throughout the hollows to move timber from the hollows to mills built in McDowell. Each company had its own tram system to accommodate tracts of timber in watersheds (North Fork, Panther, Knox Creek, etc.) it worked, and so few areas in McDowell were without dinkie railroads--so-called because of the small dinkie locomotives that powered laden flatbeds that snaked throughout McDowell. Several of these companies, such as the Panther Lumber Company, were owned by C. L. Ritter (later, Georgia -Pacific) out of Huntington. Although the dinkies hauled mostly timber, they did accommodate emerging communities by hauling in supplies and offering a rudimentary system of transportation to people who rode on the flatbeds. When later, stardard-guaged railroads moved into McDowell, they incorporated and expanded upon the beds and tracks first graded and laid by the lumber companies.


A few large lumber companies in McDowell:

Tug River Lumber and Mill Company, Dry Fork
Knox Creek Lumber Co., Devon, WV
Panther Creek Lumber Co.
Sandy Huff Lumber Co., Iaeger (two miles to the east)
North Fork Lumber Company

A New Lumber Company Chartered

The Secretary of state ( WV) has issued a charter to the Wilson Creek Lumber Company of Welch to own and operate saw mills and conduct a lumber business; capital, $1,000. Incorporators: James Hamill, R. E. Pendleton, _?_Seaman, R. B. Bl? gdon. and Wentz, all of Columbus, Ohio.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
March 3, 1904

Submitted by June White


McDowell County