The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Difference between revisions of "McKendree, West Virginia"

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[[Image:McKendree-Hospital.jpg|thumb|McKendree Hospital]]
[[Image:McKendree-Hospital.jpg|thumb|McKendree Hospital]]
[[Image:McKendree-1913.png|thumb|USGS 1913 map showing McKendree]]
[[Image:McKendree-1913.png|thumb|USGS 1913 map showing McKendree]]
[[Image:McKendree Hospital ca 1915.png|thumb|McKendree Hospital ca. 1915]]
[[Image:Buffalo-quinnimont-1880.png|thumb|A 1880 map showing "Siding" at a location just upstream of McKendree]]
[[Image:Buffalo-quinnimont-1880.png|thumb|A 1880 map showing "Siding" at a location just upstream of McKendree]]

Revision as of 17:58, 13 July 2015

McKendree Hospital
USGS 1913 map showing McKendree
McKendree Hospital ca. 1915
A 1880 map showing "Siding" at a location just upstream of McKendree

McKendree is located along a picturesque bend in New River in the southern Fayette County. The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) established a station named McKendree at some unknown date, but not later than 1882 or 1883. A gazetteer of 1882-83 noted that McKenree had a population of 150, and that a saw mill was located there and that lumber was shipped from this point. A listing for W. E. Mohler & Sons, lumber dealers, was shown under the McKendree heading.

A article in the Coal and Coal Trade Journal publishing in 1891 indicated that the McKendree Coal and Iron Company operated a mine at McKendree. Little is known about this mining company, but it apparently didn't stay in business long enough to be mentioned in mining inspector reports of the mid 1890s.

A 1890s-era depot survived at McKendree until it was dismantled by the railroad and replaced with a "flag stop" shelter in about 1943. A block signal office built in 1897 as a combined depot and tower was demolished in the late-1930s.

Judging from the number of sidings shown here on the 1913 USGS map, during the early decades of operation the railroad maintained a good-sized marshaling yard at McKendree. Interestingly, a 1880 map labeled a location just slightly upstream of McKendree as "Siding." A C&O Employees' Timetable of 1889 noted that "shifting engines will work daily (both night and day) between East Sewell and McKendree ... keeping out of the way of regular trains." (1)

The McKendree Coal and Coke Company was incorporated by William Beury and others in 1889, which listed the address of its offices in McKendree, however we have been unable to find any evidence of the company mining or shipping coal from an operation at McKendree. According to the book, Geologic Section Along the New and Kanawha Rivers in West Virginia, published in 1896, "At McKendree a mine was opened and an incline built from the mine to the railroad, but the seam was found to be only about 18 inches thick and the work was abandoned." A local tradition claims McKendree hospital was built on land donated by Col. Joseph Beury, but we have been unable to determine the validity of this claim.

McKendree Miners Hospital Number 2

Miners Hospital Number 2 was established at McKendree in 1900 or 1902, the second of three Miners' hospitals established by the State of West Virginia in the coal-mining regions to serve miners and their families. In 1910 the population of McKendree was 61 according to the W. Va. Geological Survey.

The hospital's name was changed from Miners' Hospital No. 2 to the McKendree Hospital in April, 1916. A superintendent's house and nurses' building was constucted, about 200 feet west of the hospital building during 1916-17. The original six and one half acre site of the institution was increased to 121 acres after a few years. Vegetables were grown on the facility's grounds, apple tree were planted on the grounds, and pigs and hogs were raised and butchered on site.

By the 1920s, the buildings of the institution at McKendree consisted of the hospital building, a nurses' home, garage, and power plant. Sitting on a large natural terrace above a bend in the New River, surrounded by the wooded hills of the scenic New River Gorge, the McKendree complex resembled a vacation resort in many ways. Several towering trees had been left on the main grounds, with benches constructed around them for use by patients and staff. The main grounds were landscaped by the builders, and surrounded by walls of hand-cut stone quarried from the site. The side and rear lawns were terraced in similar fashion, and bordered with walls of native stone. An extensive rose garden was placed between the hospital and the nurses' quarters, and numerous flower gardens planted throughout the grounds.

A nursing school was established in 1910 and continued operating until 1939 when the hospital closed. The institution was reorganized soon afterwards and reopened, but the nursing school was only able to graduate one final class in 1941. The hospital then became a home for aged black citizens, and continued operation until 1956, when the hospital was closed and the patients moved to a facility in Huntington, WV.

The brick walls of the four-story McKendree Hospital and two-story nurses home stood well-into the 1980s but following much destruction by vandals (which began in the 1960s) the structures were eventually razed, reducing the complex to sprawling pile of brick and concrete. Much brick and masonry from the hospital has been removed (either legally or illegally) and incorporated in other area structures.

Rafter's Reference: The ruins of the McKendree Hospital complex are located on river-right, midway between Dowdy Creek Rapids and Ledges Rapids and are also accessible by hiking and 4-wheel-drive vehicle by Thurmond-McKendree Road (CR-25). A public river access point, with carry down for small boats, provides access to fishing the New River at McKendree.


(1) Eugene L. Huddleston, Riding That New River Train