WVExp.com
The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


Hamlet (historical)

From West Virginia (WV) Cyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pond near the former site of Hamlet, WV
1913 USGS map showing New River Gorge from Quinnimont to Glade
Logging train on the Glade Creek & Raleigh Railroad

Hamlet was associated with timbering operations in Raleigh County and was located across New River from the mainline of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O), upstream of the mouth of Glade Creek. Remnants of the town in the form of foundations are easily accessible to hikers and boaters, being located in a broad, wooded bottom at the mouth of the creek. As part of the New River Gorge National River, the National Park Service has improved a scenic gravel road from WV-41 to a public campground and stream-access area near the former town site.

A 1882 article in The Virginias states that Williams & Crawford were operating a water-powered lumber mill at the mouth of Glade Creek, cutting basswood into excelsior (wood wool), a material then being used to fill mattresses, cushions, etc. According to the article the mill's product was bailed and sent to markets in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond, and elsewhere. The bails of wood wool must have been transported across New River by boat to the C&O Railway depot at Glade.[1]

The March 28, 1896 edition of The Railway Age noted that a 15-mile long narrow gauge railroad was being built by R. Beaty & Company of Quinnimont from Glade Station on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway to Raleigh.[2]

By 1897, the Glade Creek & Raleigh Railroad (GC&R) had opened a narrow-gauge railroad from Crow to a point on the south side of New River at the mouth of Glade Creek, and in 1898 the line was extended to a then unnamed terminus about 1/2 mile upstream. The railroad's terminus on the banks of New River would later became known as Hamlet, and was located directly opposite Glade Station on the C&O Railway. The railroad was built to haul lumber from a sawmill located at Crow to Hamlet where it was likely ferried across the river and loaded onto C&O freight cars on a siding just downstream the C&O station at Glade.

At some unknown date, Glade became the junction point for a U.S. Railway Mail Service route between the C&O Railway and the Glade Creek & Raleigh Railroad (GC&R). The GC&R transported the mail from Glade to the post offices at Whorely and from there to Beckley.[3] The mail must have been transported from Glade Station across the New River by boat to Hamlet, as the rail line of the GC&R did not cross New River.

A sawmill business at Crow was established as the Beaty Lumber Co. by Horace and J. R. Beaty in 1888. Before the narrow gauge railroad was built lumber was transported to the bottom of the gorge via an incline on the edge of the plateau at Grandview. The railroad was incorporated July 18, 1891.

In 1906, the GC&R was merged into the Raleigh & Southwestern, a joint operation of the Raleigh Lumber Company and the Blue Jay Lumber Company. In about that same year the railroad route between Crow and Hamlet was abandoned. The Raleigh & Southwestern was soon adsorbed by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) and during the 1916 the C&O took up the narrow-gauge tracks of the Glade Creek & Raleigh.[4]

A post office a request to established a post office in Hamlet was filed that suggested Krise, Glade or Hamlet as its name, which resulted the establishment of a post office named Hamlet on May 7, 1914. In 1916, a proposal to change the location of the post office from Hamlet to Glade but nothing was done with the request. Some years later, after the sawmill at Hamlet was closed the post office at Hamlet was also closed. However, that same day, Sept. 1, 1938, a post office was established at Glade.

Seven concrete piers in the New River near the mouth of Glade Creek are often mistaken as remnants of a bridge used by a narrow gauge railroad of the late 1800s, the Glade Creek & Raleigh Railroad. The piers were actually part of a standard-gauge railroad line operated by the Glade Creek Coal & Lumber Company from 1924 until 1929. That year, the Glade Creek Coal and Lumber Company sold its holding to the Babcock Coal & Timber Company, which continued operation of the line until about 1936. Completed in early 1923 by the American Bridge Company, the 750-foot railroad bridge was said to be "the longest of all those crossing New River" at that time.

When the Babcock company closed its operations during the Great Depression, most of the tracks were taken-up, and the rails were reclaimed. During World War II, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) received permission from the U.S. government to salvage the steel girder sections of the bridge. The superstructure of the bridge was removed by the railroad and eventually used on various branch lines. A sawmill began operation in Hamlet in about 1921 and continued operation until Sept. 1, 1938. That same day, the post office at Hamlet was closed.

Visiting Hamlet

Rafter's Reference: The remnants of Hamlet are located on river-left, upstream of Grassy Shoals Rapids and the mouth of Glade Creek. The piers that once carried a railway across the river are the most obvious remnants of the town.

Sources

[1] "Lumbering on the Chesapeake & Ohio Ry." in the January 1882 edition of The Virginias via Google Books
[2] The Railway Age (1896) Google Books
[3] I.C.S. Reference Library: Transportation ... U.S. Railway Mail Service via Google Books [4] "Railway News" in The Railway Review (1917) via Google Books


Photos

Bathers wade New River above Glade Creek
Waders at bridge pier in New River at Glade, WV
Stone priers of railroad bridge that once crossed the New River near Glade
New River upstream of Glade, WV
Kayakers drift past piers near Glade, WV
Shallows in New River above mouth of Glade