The West Virginia. Cyclopedia
In 1873, the Nuttall Company opened its mining operation at Nuttallburg, under the leadership of John Nuttall, an English immigrant and Pennsylvania capitalist. The Nuttallburg mining operation was one of the earliest mining operations opened in the New River Gorge, beginning to ship coal from the mine just after the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway was completed in 1873. By 1878, 40 coke ovens were in operation at the Nuttallburg coal plant. The mining community was known as Nuttallburg, but the station established there by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) was named "Nuttall" and the station on the opposite side of New River was named South Nuttall. The Nuttallburg post office was established in 1873, and was moved to Winona in the mid-1950s.
In 1882, Nuttall reorganized his company as the Nuttallburg Coal and Coke Company, incorporating additional coal holdings he had acquired, including 25,000 acres of coal loads along Keeney's Creek. The Nuttallburg mine and plant continued operation under ownership by the Nuttall family for several decades but was eventually leased to outside operators. In 1920, Henry Ford & Sons purchased the Nuttall lease and soon afterwards began modernization of the plant. The Fordson Coal Co. was formed to handle the operation of the Nuttallburg mine and of other mine leases Ford had purchased in McDowell County. The Nuttallburg mine was to supply high-quality steam coal for Ford's River Rouge Automobile Plant. The Fordson company had limited success with the mining operation. State mining records indicate the Fordson Coal Co. had production from the Nuttallburg mine during 1923-1927. In the late 1920s, the Nuttall plant was acquired by the Maryland New River Coal Company. In 1928, the new owners renamed the Nuttallburg mine "Dubree No. 4." The Nuttallburg's coal production peaked in 1929 with 171,179 tons of coal being produced that year. Maryland New River continued operation of the plant until 1953. The Garnet Coal Company leased the mine in 1954 operating it until 1958 when the Nuttallburg operation was closed.
A circa 1896 list of mines operating in the Third Mining District of West Virginia listed two mines being operated by the Nuttallburg Coal and Coke Company -- the Nuttallburg mine with 211 workers and the Keeney mine with 106 employees. Both were drift mines working the Sewell coal seam of 4-feet thickness.
A 1906 C&O publication listed Nuttalburg Coal & Coke Company as operating two mines located at the Nuttall and Keeneys Creek stations, and having 75 coke ovens in operation. An advertisement in the same publication listed company officers as Harrison B. Smith, Pres. and L. C. Beirne, Gen. Mgr., and cited the daily capacity of the coal plant as being 400 tons of coal.
A 1903 inventory of the Nuttallburg property showed 75 dwelling owned by the company. In 1910 the population of Nuttallburg was 410. The town's population in 1920 was 359.
The W.Va. Division of Highways has established a scenic access route, partly paved and partly graveled, from CR-82 at Winona, WV, to the base of the former Nuttallburg operation on New River. Descending to the river along Keeney's Creek, the road travels through one of the most dense canyon forests that can be accessed easily by automobile, passing scenic cascades along the way. At the mouth of the canyon, the road follows the banks of New River to the stone piers of the Nuttallburg Suspension Bridge, easily recognized by whitewater rafters in the lower gorge.
Variant Names for Nuttallburg, WV
Nuttalburg, Nuttal, Nuttall, and Nuttalburgh
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Nuttallburg Suspension Bridge
Scale drawings of the Nuttallburg Suspension Bridge that once connected the towns of Nuttallburg and South Nuttall as shown below. The bridge's four pyramidal abutments were laid of stone, carefully angled to support the weight of the suspension. The suspension bridge, designed to carry pedestrian and light wagon traffic between Nuttallburg and South Nuttall (also known as Brown), was 340 feet in length and had a six-foot-wide deck.
Additional Sources of Information
Scale Drawings: Scale drawings of the Nuttallburg mine complex, including tipple, headhouse, etc.
Rafter's Reference: the ruins of the lower Nuttallburg can be accessed by raft at river-right, downstream of lower, middle, and upper Keeneys Rapids.
The following article about the Nuttallburg Smokeless Fuel Company's mining operation at Nuttallburg is from The Black Diamond, Vol. 62 and can be read and downloaded (PDF) at Google Books.