WVExp.com
The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


Difference between revisions of "Sewell, West Virginia"

From West Virginia (WV) Cyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Line 9: Line 9:
 
In 1785, an act of the Virginia Assembly authorized the building of a wagon road from [[Lewisburg, West Virginia|Lewisburg, WV]], to the Kanawha Falls on New River. Roughly following native trails, this "Old State Road" was completed in 1790. An iron-truss wagon bridge was built across New River at Sewell in about 1900, just downstream of the old ferry crossing, but was destroyed by a flood only a 21 days after being built and was never replaced. The bridge was built at a cost of $18,500.
 
In 1785, an act of the Virginia Assembly authorized the building of a wagon road from [[Lewisburg, West Virginia|Lewisburg, WV]], to the Kanawha Falls on New River. Roughly following native trails, this "Old State Road" was completed in 1790. An iron-truss wagon bridge was built across New River at Sewell in about 1900, just downstream of the old ferry crossing, but was destroyed by a flood only a 21 days after being built and was never replaced. The bridge was built at a cost of $18,500.
  
In 1873, the Longdale Iron Co., a manufacturer of pig iron in Allegheny County, VA, acquired a tract of land around Sewell, opening a mine at Sewell Depot that same year. The Sewell operation was the first in the gorge to experiment in the burning of [[Coke|coke]], finally adopting the beehive oven design in 1874, at which time they build a battery of 50 [[Coke|coke]] ovens. In the years that followed, the company expanded its coking operation to 196 ovens, making the Sewell plant the largest coking plant in the gorge. Sewell's population in 1910 was 410 according to the W.Va. Geological Survey (1919). In 1920 the town's population was 525.
+
In 1873, the Longdale Iron Company, a manufacturer of pig iron in Allegheny County, VA, acquired a tract of land around Sewell, opening a coal mine at Sewell Depot that same year. The Sewell operation was the first in the gorge to experiment in the burning of [[Coke|coke]], finally adopting the beehive oven design in 1874, at which time they build a battery of 50 [[Coke|coke]] ovens. For years, all of the coal mined was coked for use in the Longdale Iron Company's foundry. Eventually, the coking plant at Sewell would expand to 196 ovens, and the Sewell plant would become the largest coking plant in the New River Gorge.  
  
 +
In the 1880s, the Manns Creek Railroad, a 36-inch narrow gauge railroad, was built from Sewell to a new coal mine in the highlands about 8 miles from Sewell.[1]  By 1897, the railroad had opened a line to Cliff Top and a mine called "No. 2", a distance of 13 miles from Sewell.[2]
 +
 +
Sewell's population in 1910 was 410 according to the W.Va. Geological Survey (1919). In 1920 the town's population was 525.
 +
 +
===Visiting Sewell===
 
The impressive stone walls of old [[Coke|coke]] ovens and other ruins of mining and railroading operations once operating at Sewell still stand amid the forest, and are often visited by tourists taking white water rafting trips down the New River. The site can also be accessed by [[Babcock State Park]] Forest Road 804, which is regularly closed to vehicular traffic but can be hiked from the parking area at the park's Glade Creek Gristmill.
 
The impressive stone walls of old [[Coke|coke]] ovens and other ruins of mining and railroading operations once operating at Sewell still stand amid the forest, and are often visited by tourists taking white water rafting trips down the New River. The site can also be accessed by [[Babcock State Park]] Forest Road 804, which is regularly closed to vehicular traffic but can be hiked from the parking area at the park's Glade Creek Gristmill.
  
Line 41: Line 46:
  
  
<h3>Variant Name(s)</h3>
+
===Variant Name(s)===
  
 
Bowyers Ferry, West Augusta
 
Bowyers Ferry, West Augusta
 +
 +
 +
===Sources===
 +
 +
[1] "Items from the New River District of the Great Kanawha, W.Va." in ''The Coal Trade Journal'' (Oct. 7, 1885)[https://books.google.com/books?id=2s9LAAAAYAAJ2&pg=PA130 Google Books]<br/>
 +
[2] "Construction" in ''The Railway Age'' (Feb. 12, 1897) via [https://books.google.com/books?id=2s9LAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA130 Google Books]<br/>

Revision as of 17:08, 1 August 2015

Coking operation at Sewell, coal tipple in background
1901 C&O track diagram of Sewell and East Sewell

A historic community in the heart of the New River Gorge in central Fayette County, Sewell was originally known as Bowyers Ferry, named for Peter Bowyer, who established a ferry across New River in about 1798. Bowyer is also credited with being the first white settler to build a cabin in the New River Gorge. The community's name was later changed to "Sewell" in honor of Stephen Sewell, a pioneer who, with Jacob Marlin, was among the first Europeans to settle the central Allegheny Mountains. Sometime after 1751, Sewell crossed the highland west of present-day Marlinton, WV, and explored the area of the plateau above Sewell. Nearby Sewell Mountain was also named for Sewell.

According to local tradition, the community at Sewell was formerly the crossing point across New River used by various Native American tribes long before the arrival of European settlers. The Sewell crossing point was said to have been part of a Indian trail connecting a trail along Lower Loop Creek to another well-traveled Indian trail, the Midland Trail, now US-60.

In 1785, an act of the Virginia Assembly authorized the building of a wagon road from Lewisburg, WV, to the Kanawha Falls on New River. Roughly following native trails, this "Old State Road" was completed in 1790. An iron-truss wagon bridge was built across New River at Sewell in about 1900, just downstream of the old ferry crossing, but was destroyed by a flood only a 21 days after being built and was never replaced. The bridge was built at a cost of $18,500.

In 1873, the Longdale Iron Company, a manufacturer of pig iron in Allegheny County, VA, acquired a tract of land around Sewell, opening a coal mine at Sewell Depot that same year. The Sewell operation was the first in the gorge to experiment in the burning of coke, finally adopting the beehive oven design in 1874, at which time they build a battery of 50 coke ovens. For years, all of the coal mined was coked for use in the Longdale Iron Company's foundry. Eventually, the coking plant at Sewell would expand to 196 ovens, and the Sewell plant would become the largest coking plant in the New River Gorge.

In the 1880s, the Manns Creek Railroad, a 36-inch narrow gauge railroad, was built from Sewell to a new coal mine in the highlands about 8 miles from Sewell.[1] By 1897, the railroad had opened a line to Cliff Top and a mine called "No. 2", a distance of 13 miles from Sewell.[2]

Sewell's population in 1910 was 410 according to the W.Va. Geological Survey (1919). In 1920 the town's population was 525.

Visiting Sewell

The impressive stone walls of old coke ovens and other ruins of mining and railroading operations once operating at Sewell still stand amid the forest, and are often visited by tourists taking white water rafting trips down the New River. The site can also be accessed by Babcock State Park Forest Road 804, which is regularly closed to vehicular traffic but can be hiked from the parking area at the park's Glade Creek Gristmill.


Elevation: 1040 feet
Population: 0
Longitude: -81.0211
Latitude: 37.9972


   

Map: Sewell, WV


Topo map of Sewell, WV and vicinity


Variant Name(s)

Bowyers Ferry, West Augusta


Sources

[1] "Items from the New River District of the Great Kanawha, W.Va." in The Coal Trade Journal (Oct. 7, 1885)Google Books
[2] "Construction" in The Railway Age (Feb. 12, 1897) via Google Books