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The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


Stone Cliff, West Virginia

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Highway bridge crossing New River at Stone Cliff
USGS 1913 map showing location of Stone Cliff
Coke ovens at Stone Cliff, circa 1906
1890-era East Yard Office survived until the 1980s

The Stone Cliff mine was one of the early mining operations established soon after the completion of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) through the New River Gorge. Operated by the Fayette Coal & Coke Company, the mine was opened in 1880 by Mr. Bramwell and Noah Jenkins. As was typical of early mining operations in the gorge, the mine opening was located high upon the hillside of the gorge, several hundred vertical feet in elevation above the coal loading facilities at the bottom of the gorge.

West Virginia mining records (1) indicate the Stone Cliff mines were operated by the Fayette Coal and Coke Co. in 1884; Beury Coal and Coke Co. during 1886-1904; Stone Cliff Coal & Coke Co. between 1905-1928; and Brockman Smokeless Coal Co. during 1929-1932. (The state's records begin in 1884.)

During 1884 the company was operating two mines, Stone Cliff Nos. 1 & 2. A company letterhead from that year listed the officers as Fred A. Brown, Pres.; Louis A. Mathey, V.P. and Secy./Treas.; and N. M. Jenkins, Supt. A circa-1896 list of collieries in the Third Mining District of West Virginia listed the Beury, Coal & Coke Co. as operating the Stone Cliff mine, a drift opening in the Fire Creek coal seam, with 3 ft. 6 in. thickness. The company employed 160 workers and operated 60 coke ovens. O. C. Kubach was superintendent.

A C&O publication of 1906 listed the Stone Cliff coal plant as having 60 coke ovens in operation. An advertisement in the same publication noted the company maintained a company store and 75 houses for workers. A post office was established at Stone Cliff in 1880. The West Virginia Geologic Survey estimated the population of Stone Cliff as 520 persons in 1910. In 1920, the town's population was 840. That same year, the population of Fayetteville, the county seat of Fayette County, was 659.

Because Stone Cliff was located at the end of Thurmond East Yard several railroad structures were once located near or throughout the town. In the latter days of steam locomotives, the C&O installed a turntable large enough to turn large articulated steam locomotives at Stone Cliff due to lack of enough flat terrain at Thurmond. Until the large concrete coaling station was constructed in Thurmond in 1922, steam locomotives stationed in Thurmond were refueled with coal at the Stone Cliff tipple.

Stone Cliff is located about 1.5 miles east (upstream) of Thurmond, WV. Sparse stone ruins remain in the Stone Cliff area today, best visible after winter snowpacks have compressed the overlying mat of leaves. Remains of Stone Cliff's battery of coke ovens are visible as is the foundation of what was apparently a company store. The National Park Service's Stone Cliff camping and river-access areas are located opposite and just upstream of the former townsite. The Stone Cliff Bridge carries Thurmond-McKendree Road (CR-25) across the New River here.


Rafter's Reference: The ruins of Stone Cliff are located on river-right, just downstream of the Stone Cliff Bridge.


Sources

(1) West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, mine data tonnage reports -- (1884 is the first year for which complete records are available)