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Ghost Town USA’s

Guide to the Ghost Towns of

WEST VIRGINIA

“The Mountain State”

 

 

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Western & Eastern Treasures

Ghost Town USA Column Index for West Virginia

WOW! That’s all I have to say about West Virginia. In July 2007, we visited The Mountain State for the first time and enjoyed Mountaineer hospitality and ghost towns.  West Virginia, like most of the East Coast states gets shorted in the publishing markets when it comes to ghost towns. 

 

Even though we only touched on a few locations and couldn’t access a number of others due to inclement weather, we sampled enough to where I can heartily endorse a visit to this beautiful state.

 

Of course the vast majority of West Virginia ghost towns are dead or dying coal mining camps.  Since coal was the largest economic base in the state, it goes without saying that coal mining camps would be the largest contributor to the state’s roster of ghost towns.  As a result, unlike most of the East Coast ghosts, these ghosts mostly date to the mid-19th Century and newer.

 

During our visit we managed to visit the Morgantown area up north, as well as the New River Gorge (NRG) in the south.  Both areas have large quantities of coal camps, and are very accessible.  However, to explore the ghost towns in the NRG area, be prepared to hike.  And that brings out some caveats.

 

·        It is protected by the National Park Service, so no metal detectors (SORRY!). 

·        The CSX Railroad still owns an active rail line in the bottom of the gorge, so abide by all appropriate signage. 

·        There are also poisonous snakes (copperheads and timber rattlesnakes) and poison ivy, so be cautious while hiking off any trails.

·        Cell phone reception is poor or non-existent down in the gorge.

 

For orientation and materials, be sure to stop in the New River Gorge Visitor Center the east side of the canyon and the NRG Bridge.  It is operated by the National Park Service and contains hiking guides and ghost town information.

  

PLEASE NOTE: 

Where photos are indicated thusly (PHOTO!), please use your browser’s “BACK” button to return to this page.  More photos will be added over time.

 

THE GHOSTS

 

ADVENT

Jackson Co.

This class D town is located in the southern tip of the county about five miles northeast of Romance.  It had a 1990 population of 50, but is not shown on the official state map.

BURNING SPRINGS

Ritchie or Wood Co.

A late 1800s oil-boom town in the vicinity of Volcano and Petroleum.  Actual location not determined.

CASS

Pocahontas Co.

In 1990, this town in the center of the county,  on SH 66 and the Greenbrier River, 16 AIR miles northeast of Marlinton, had 150 people.  Cass was a major lumbering center in the early 1900s, but has faded greatly.  The West Virginia Pulp and Paper General Store was claimed to have been the largest company store in the world.  In the early 1990s, the Cass Country Store occupied the old building.

FORT ASHBY

Mineral Co.

Fort Ashby is off US 220, and was one of a chain of frontier forts established to protect the frontier of western Virginia in the 1770s.  The fort has been restored.

FORT NEALLY

Berkeley Co.

This colonial fort dates back to 1756.  It was located in the far northeastern hook of the state.  Location not determined.

GARY

McDowell Co.

Located on SH 103, six miles south of Welch. This once prosperous coal-mining town dates 1895 when coal mining began along the Tug River.  By 1970 the population faded to 2712 people.  In 1986, the mine closed, and the population dropped.   By 1987 downtown was mostly abandoned.  A grocery, gas station, car wash and pool hall were still open, but the future looked real bleak.  During the 1940s it is claimed that 15,000 people lived in Gary and 15 smaller company coal towns in the area.  Gary incorporated in 1970, but that didn’t save the town, and in the 1990s it was in serious economic trouble.

HALF-WAY HOUSE

Fayette Co.

Located on US 60, on the east side of Ansted, this was a busy roadside tavern and stopping place on the Kanawha Turnpike.  It was in use from the 1770s-1860s.

HENRY CLAY IRON FURNACE

Preston Co.

This pig iron furnace was located at or near Bruceton Mills, east of Morgantown.  An iron furnace and its supporting town was built at or near Bruceton Mills, east of Morgantown.  It was in operation for only 12 years, beginning in the 1830s.  The square, stone smokestack stands 30 feet tall. 

JACKO INN

Doddridge Co.

At the foot of Jacko Hill.  This old tavern and wayside stop has several lost treasure legends attached to it. It is located somewhere west of Clarksburg.  Actual location not determined.

KAYMOOR

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

 

·        Latitude: 38.0501113 / 38° 03’ 00” N

·        Longitude: -81.0548225 / 81° 03’ 17” W

MIRACLE RUN

Monongalia Co.

20 people lived here in 1990.  It was located somewhere west of Morgantown.  Actual location not determined.

ROWLESBURG

Preston Co.

On SH 72, just two miles north of US 50, 15 miles south of Kingwood. In early November 1985, this town of 1006 folks was badly flooded by the Cheat River.  Over half of its 341 homes were damaged or washed away, and by 1990, only 468 people remained. 

SEWELL

Fayette Co.

Located on the east side of the New River, directly across from Cunard, within the boundaries of Babcock State Park.  Cunard is located about seven miles east of Oak Hill, 17 AIR miles northeast of Beckley.  This was a coking center in operation from about 1900-the early 1940s. 

See our SEWELL page for additional details.

Thurmond

Fayette Co.

Thurmond is a fascinating railroad town that sits at the bottom of the New River Gorge northeast of Beckley.  It is accessible by road from Glen Jean. The town was established in 1888, and boomed through the early 1920s.  It faded in the 1930s and today is just a dried husk of its glory days. 

See our Thurmond page for additional details.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

WILDCAT

Lewis Co.

This old town is located along the Little Kanawha River in the south tip of the county, dead center in the state.  Some 15 people lived here in 1980.

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

There are over 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States of America. Gary B. Speck Publications is trying to capture as many of these historical locations as possible and is currently in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of *** ™.  These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.

 

For more information on the ghost towns of WEST VIRGINIA, contact us at Ghost Town USA.

 

E-mailers, PLEASE NOTE:  Due to the tremendous amount of viruses, worms and “spam,” out there, I no longer open or respond to any e-mails with unsolicited attachments, OR messages on the subject lines with “Hey”, “Hi”, “Need help”, “Help Please”, “???”, or blank subject lines, etc.  If you do send E-mail asking for information, or sharing information, PLEASE indicate the appropriate location AND state name, or other topic on the “subject” line.   

 

Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!

IMPORTANT NOTE

 

These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites in WISCONSIN as shown above are for informational purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites.

 

If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any state or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, state or local laws restricting the same.   ALWAYS respect the rights of the landowners.

 

When you are exploring the ghost towns of WEST VIRGINIA, please abide by the

Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.

 

 

Also visit: Ghost Town USA’s

 

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THIS PAGE

FIRST POSTED:  March 01, 2002

LAST UPDATED: November 17, 2012

 

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