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Traveling Vest Virginia
Nuttallburg
A Historic New River Coal Town



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Nuttallburg was one of almost fifty towns that sprang up along the New River in response to a growing nation's need for coal. In 1870, England-born entrepreneur John Nuttall saw opportunity in the coal rich New River gorge and began buying land and building infrastructure along the Keeneys Creek drainage. When the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway was completed through the gorge in 1873, the town was ready for its arrival. Nuttallburg became the second mining town in the New River gorge to ship the "smokeless" coal, processed from a mineral seam hundreds of feet above the river corridor and shipped to industrial cities hundreds of miles away.

Nuttallburg was a bustling mining community by the turn of the century, continuing to thrive after Nuttall's death in 1897 under the direction of his heirs. The town became the focus of national attention in the 1920's when, in an effort known as "vertical integration" to gain control of all aspects of production, automobile industrialist Henry Ford leased the town's mines to provide coal for his company steel mills. The Fordson Coal Company made many improvements to the mine and town during the eight year tenure, but Ford's plan for "vertical integration" failed when it became evident he could neither control, nor afford to buy, the railroad that was responsible for transportation of the coal his mines produced. He sold interests in the Nuttallburg mines in 1928.

The mines of Nuttallburg passed through three owners after Henry Ford, with production limited to primarily local use in later years as the market for New River coal declined. Production ceased in 1958 and Nuttallburg became like so many other riverside communities that rose and fell due to changes in the industry. A collection of empty buildings and structure-less foundations, concealed beneath trees and vines, is all that remains.

New River Gorge National Park

Nuttallburg Person Interviewed: Billy Strasser
Title: Ranger
Location: Fayette County, West Virginia
Website: www.nps.gov/neri/historyculture/nuttallburg.htm


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