The West Virginia. Cyclopedia
Mount Hope, West Virginia
A community in southern Fayette County about 10 miles north of Beckley, WV, Mount Hope was incorporated in 1895 and named for Mount Hope School, a one-room schoolhouse named by Judge William McGinnis for its location at the head of a fruitful valley of Dunloup Creek, where pea vines grew in the spring in great abundance -- "the settlers bringing their cattle annually early in the season to graze thereat." Thus, as the season of spring is regarded as a symbol of resurrection, renewal and hope, the school was so named.
Mount Hope had become the largest commercial center of the New River Coal Field by the mid-1910s, a distinction the town would retain until the mid-1930s. In 1915, the New River Company, located its headquarters in Mount Hope. By the 1940s, the New River Company had grown to become one of the largest coal companies in Southern West Virginia. But there were many other mining companies headquartered in the town during the town's period of boom during 1910-1935. Companies with headquarters in Mount Hope circa 1926 included: Fayette Smokeless Fuel Company, Glencoe Coal Company, Bob Coal Company, Sugar Creek Coal Company, Dartmont Coal Company, Laurel Creek Fuel Company, Pemberton Fuel Company, Long Branch Fuel Company, East Gulf Coal Company, Prince-Wick Coal Company, City Coal Company, Mount Hope Fuel Company, Sugar Creek Coal Sales, Dunn Loop Coal & Coke Company, Harvey Coal & Coke Company, Prudence Coal Company, Collins Colliery Company, White Oak Fuel Company, Cranberry Fuel Company, Beckley Coal & Coke Company, Mabscott Coal & Coke Company, Macdonald Colliery Company, Mount Hope Coal & Coke Company, and Meadow Fork Coal Company. With the demise of the local coal-mining industry that began in the 1950s; however, the city's economy began to decline, and by the 1970s, many of Mount Hope's commercial enterprises had closed.
Today, the city, which has been called the gateway to the central New River Gorge National River, one of southern West Virginia's primary tourist attractions.
Macdonald and Warner Town
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.
Dunloup Creek is a swift-moving stream that offers fishing for every local variety -- small-mouth bass, large-mouth bass, channel catfish, brown trout, rainbow trout. Dunloup Creek runs through Mt. Hope, and is stocked from the mouth of Dunloup at Thurmond, upstream to Harvery, WV, a location about 5 miles from Mt. Hope.
Plum Orchard Lake, near [Pax, West Virginia|Pax}, is considered one of the best Bluegill holes in the Eastern U.S., is located about 10 miles from Mt. Hope. Plum Orchard Lake has good populations of sunfish, large mouth bass, channel catfish and crappie.
The New River provides great fishing for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, rock bass, walleye, muskellunge, crappie, bluegill, carp, and flathead and channel catfish. New River fishing spots with easy access near Mount Hope include McCreery, about 8 miles from Mt. Hope and McKendree, about 13 from Mt. Hope.
Development of Mount Hope
William Blake, the town's first permanant white settler, arrived to the area that is present-day Mount Hope, WV in about 1805-1810, and soon afterwards established an inn along the route of the Giles, Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike. But the area remained remote and isolated, and as late as the 1850's there were only three families living in the area.
Following the arrival of a railroad branchline to Mount Hope in 1894, and the resulting development of the area's coal industry, the town of Mount Hope continued to expand. By 1910, the population of the town had reached 1,200 people and within a radius of four miles another 5,000 people lived and twenty coal mines were in operation, producing coal marketed as smokeless coal from the New River Coal Field.
Although Mount Hope was not a "company town" owned by a coal company, mining operations literally surrounded the town. Just northeast of the town's city limits, a mine called the Mt. Hope mine was operated by the Sugar Creek Coal & Coke Company, which shipped its first coal during the year ending June 30, 1898. The Sugar Creek mining operations were located in the area of what is now the Mount Hope Municipal Stadium. To the southeast of town, the MacDonald Colliery Company began shipping from its mining operation in Macdonald during the year ending June 30, 1894. To the southwest, the McKell Coal and Coke Company operated the Kilsyth mining operation, which first shipped coal during the year ending June 30, 1902. At the present-day location of Mountaineer Mart in Mount Hope, the Mt. Hope Coal & Coke Company operated the Baby Mine, which first shipped coal during the year ending June 30, 1908.
On March 24, 1910 Mt. Hope was almost completely destroyed by fire that consumed 40 businesses and 150 dwellings. Mount Hope was soon afterwards rebuilt during the the years 1910-1911. Because the town rose from its ashes like the mythical Phoenix the town became popularly known as The Phoenix City for many decades after the 1910 fire.
A new charter was granted to the town in 1921 as the City of Mount Hope. By the mid-1920's the city had population of 3,560 and had established a senior high, junior high and elementary school for white students, and a school for African American students. During the same period the city maintained five miles of paved streets, a sanitary sewerage system and a municipal water supply, with the town's electric power being provided by Appalachian Power Company.
Mount Hope Politicians
Mount Hope has produced many famous citizens, among them Governor Okey L. Patteson. In 1948, Okey Patteson (Democrat) of Mount Hope, WV defeated Herbert S. Boreman (Republican) of Parkersburg in the West Virginia govenor's race.
Mt. Hope Stadium
Depression Art Mural