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Fayette, West Virginia

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Fayette Station Bridge at the Turn-of-the-Century
The new Fayette Station Bridge
Circa 1880s map showing Fayette Station on the north side of New River
C&O diagram of 1901 showing Fayette
USGS 1913 map showing Fayette and vicinity

Soon after the completion of its rail line through the New River Gorge in 1873, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) established a station just west (downstream) of Mile Post 404 called "Fayette." This point on the line became widely known as "Fayette Station" and was so designated on many of the maps of the late-1800s. A post office was established at Fayette in 1875, only two years after the rail line's completion. As the station closest to Fayetteville, the county seat of Fayette County, Fayette Station quickly became an important and frequently used arrival and departure point.

An early wagon road lead from Fayetteville to the area across New River opposite Fayette Station. By 1889 the Fayette Station Bridge, a wagon bridge, was completed across the New River to the station. In 1907, the C&O completed its 2nd-set of mainline tracks down the south side of the New River, between Bridge Junction and MacDougal. At about this time, a station was established on on the opposite side of New River known as South Fayette.

It is sometimes claimed that G. M. Blume was operating a mine at Fayette prior to the completion of the C&O rail line (1873.) The historic records of the railroad and mining industry seems to state otherwise. The formative history of the New River Coal Field has been well documented in several authoritative publications -- there is no evidence of commercial mining being performed at Fayette Station prior to the arrival of the railroad. However, there may well have been a "coal bank" there, a natural outcropping of coal on the hillside where a local blacksmith or others could easily obtain a small quantity of coal for their use. As noted in the Routes, Resorts, and Resources of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway of Virginia and West Virginia, published in 1879,regarding the mine at Fayette Station, "The coal seams of vicinity here have been tested and partially opened, but are not are not yet regularly mined."

In September of 1881, G. M. Blume advertised coal lands for lease at Fayette Station. By 1885, a mine operated by Wm. Masters & Son located at Fayette Station was shipping coal via the C&O. State mining records indicate that the Fayette mine was operated by Wm. Masters & Son during 1886-1887; Fayette Coal & Coke Company between 1890-1915; and Fayette Smokeless Coal. Co. in 1916-1917 (and in 1937); and Reliance Coal & Coke Co. of W.Va. during 1917-1920.

A circa-1896 list of mines in the Third District of West Virginia showed the Fayette Coal and Coke Company as operating the Fayette mine, with a post office address at Fayette, W.Va. The mine was a drift opening working the Sewell coal seam of 3 ft. 6 ins. thickness, with 108 employees, and 12 coke ovens in operation. J. A. Boone was listed as mine superintendent.

A 1906 C&O publication and a 1911 Fayette County publication both listed the mine at Fayette as being operated by the Fayette Coal and Coke Company. An advertisement in the 1906 publication noted the capacity of the mine was 500 tons of coal per day, stating the company maintained a company store and 50 homes for workers. The company officials were listed G. M. Blume, President and E. G. Blume, Vice-President. The population of Fayette was 399 in 1910, according to the West Virginia Geological Survey. In 1920 the town's population remained at 399. West Virginia mining records indicated that in 1910 Fayette Coal & Coke reported that none of its 12 coke ovens were in operation.[1]

A 1921 list of coal mines in West Virginia cited the Fayette Sewell Coal Co. as operating the Fayette mine. In 1923, the E. G. Blume Coal Company was operating the Fayette mine, a drift mine working the Sewell seam with thickness of 3 feet. The company employed 23 workers, who worked 130 days. The company used pick and machine mining, and used one locomotive and two mules to move the coal. E. G. Blume was superintendent, and L. D. Miller the mine foreman.

Visiting Fayette Station

Rafter's Reference: the ruins of Fayette are located on river-right, in the area around the Fayette Station Bridge and just upstream of Fayette Station Rapids.

Sources

[1] Annual Report of the Dept. of Mines for the Year Ending June 30th, 1910 via Google Books