The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Macdonald, West Virginia

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Macdonald was developed as a "company town" by the Macdonald Colliery Company in 1893. The town was named for Symmington MacDonald, who was president of the company and one of the owners of the mining property which consisted of 830 acres of land leased from Thomas G. McKell. The MacDonald Colliery Company was incorporated on Oct. 4, 1893 by G. Blake of Cincinnati, Ohio and Symington Macdonald, Elizabeth H Macdonald, Samuel Dixon, and Annie Dixon of Mount Carbon, West Virginia.

At Macdonald, a "coal bank", a natural outcropping of coal on a hillside from which the coal could be easily extracted, was apparently in use for some time prior to the opening of the Macdonald mines. According to some local accounts, the coal from the bank was used by a blacksmith in Mount Hope on the Warner farm. The 1895 state mining report refers to the coal bank as the "old Godby opening".

The Macdonald Colliery Company built an elaborate tipple (by 1894 standards) at Macdonald which could furnish lump, nut, and slack coal. A large company store and about 55 homes for miners and their families were constructed at the Macdonald coal camp by 1895. In 1899, an electric plant, used to supply power for mine haulage, mining and lighting was installed at the Macdonald mining operation and arrangements were being made to build at least 50 coke ovens in the near future. First shipments of coke from the Macdonald mine occurred during the year ending June 30, 1900. During that year the company had 40 of 85 coke ovens in operation.

The town of Macdonald grew and was incorporated as town in 1904, and later became the headquarters of the New River Company and its associated companies including the White Oak Coal Company. The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway established a station at Macdonald in about 1894. The Fayette County Geological Survey lists the population of Macdonald in 1910 as being 1153 persons.

Just prior to the Fire of 1910, which destroyed most of Mount Hope, a local real estate firm, the Warner Company, began selling a number of lots between Mount Hope and Macdonald. This residential area became locally known as Warnertown. During the next few years the three communities developed rapidly, to the point where the three towns were functioning as one contiguous community. As a result, Mount Hope annexed most of Macdonald and all of Warnertown in 1915.

Map Showing the Macdonald Lease

The 1925 map below shows how far back the Macdonald lease extended along Mill Creek towards Garden Ground Mountain. Most of the lands of the Macdonald mining operation are now part of the The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scouting Reserve.

Map showing coal lands of the Macdonald mining operation. Click map to view an enlarged version.

Map of Macdonald and Vicinity

View a larger version of this map

Macdonald mine tipple, circa 1906

Macdonald Company Store, ca. 1906

1894-95 map showing the first mining towns established in the Loup Creek Coal Field
1911 USGS map showing the expansion of the coal industry that had taken place in the Macdonald area since the field first opened


Photographs taken in 1908 at the Macdonald mine by Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC).

Mule drivers at Macdonald mine, 1908
Photo of miners, mule drivers, and trapper boy at portal of the Macdonald mine, 1908