The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

MacDougal, West Virginia

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1913 USGS map showing MacDougal
1861 map showing Miller's Ferry

We have found no evidence that MacDougal was ever a town of great settlement. Instead, MacDougal was primarily a convenient location for station station on the C&O mainline. The depot was apparently established in about 1903-1907 when the railroad completed its mainline tracks along the south side of the river. Located opposite Hawks Nest, the MacDougal Depot was located at the south end of the Hawks Nest Bridge, the railroad which now crosses the New River at Hawk's Nest Lake, formed with the construction of a hydroelectric dam on New River in 1930-33.

Little is left of the place which stood in the shadow of the Hawk's Nest cliffs, or Marshall's Pillar, as it was known for a brief period of time. As early as 1861, a road known as Miller's Ferry Road descended into the gorge from the Ansted area, following a route down from the plateau to a ferry crossing between present-day Hawks Nest and MacDougal known as Miller's Ferry. From there, the road made connection with the state road running between Fayetteville and Kanawha Falls.

In about 1876, Joseph L. Beury, one of the pioneer coal operators in the New River Coal Field, moved to MacDougal from Fire Creek. Here he built a stone house that he and his family occupied for a brief time while Beury was opening a new mine at or in the vicinity of Hawks Nest. In about 1880, after the mine "pinched out," Beury moved to Ansted, and his stone house was abandoned. Beury's old home at MacDougal was reported to be still standing in the 1920s. Interestingly, the West Virginia Geological Survey of Fayette County of 1919 listed an abandoned coal mine opening at MacDougal. The opening was located on the South Side of New River, opposite the mouth of Mill Creek, at an elevation of 875' on the hillside. Perhaps this was the location of Beury short-lived mine at MacDougal.

A circa-1879 map (1) of the New River Coalfield designated a mine on the south side of New River in the vicinity of MacDougal, and identified the mine's operator as Wilmuth Bros. & Co. We have been unable to find any additional documentation on this mine or determine if this was the mine Beury was attempting to open. West Virginia's annual mining report for the year ending June 30, 1898 lists L. R. Morgan as being the operator of the McDougal [sic] mine and states the mine had 12 workers.

The MacDougal railroad depot served the communities in the plateau region above the south side of New River, and Bachman, the community just upstream. The circa-1890s wooden station house was reduced in size during the 1930, and survived until the 1980s.

Rafter's Reference: the communities of MacDougal and Hawk's Nest are located on Hawk's Nest Lake, downstream of the New River Gorge white water rafting area, and thus are generally inaccessible to rafters.


(1) W. P. Tams, Jr., The Smokeless Coal Fields of West Virginia