CAMP SUNNY BROOKS
Joyce Surbaugh, 304-660-8000
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Two homes fronting on the New River at Brooks, West Virginia. Perfect opportunity to purchase homes within minutes to many of the National Park amenities. Situated between Brooks Falls and Brooks Island along the shores of the New River. The main house is a three bedroom, one bath Circa 1880 Colonial Farmhouse, built to last for generations. Hand Hewn Beams, period correct hardware, rustic plank style 19th century interior doors, hardwood floors, wood walls, original stair treads, claw foot bathtub and old world charm. Detached garage, outbuilding/boathouse and a 30×20 pavilion situated along the New River Gorge Preserve between Brooks Falls and Brooks Island in Summers County, the heart of Southeastern West Virginia. Includes Your very own Fishing Dock with Concrete boat ramp and Fourteen Feet of Frontage on the New River to launch your BassMaster, Jet Boat, Jet-Skis, white water raft, canoes or kayaks.
Homes are serviced by separate power meters, heat pumps, all public utilities and suddenlink cable’/internet. Camp Sunny Brooks post and Beam Circa 1880 — Timber framing, often called post-and-beam construction, is a form of carpentry which involves taking large pieces of wood and joining them together with woodworking joints, using mortise-and-tenon construction, without metal construction such as nails. Wooden pegs, bents, braces, and sometimes trusses are employed. Many types of colonial houses can be considered to be timber-frame houses.
“Guesthouse” – one bedroom 640 s/f open floor plan cabin style with all wood interior, heat pump, french doors and patio. Metal siding, metal roof. Built in 2005. In need of TLC. Paved driveway and easy access from Rt. 20 / I -64 Sandstone.
MAIN HOME HIGHLIGHTS
- Built Circa 1880
- Very ambient home. Natural light flows throughout.
- 1200 sq. ft.
- Large covered front porch and side porch
- River living at its very best
- Three Bedroom. One Bath
- Exterior Vinyl
- Dock and Concrete Boat Ramp
- Garden area
- Outdoor living space
- Shingle Roof
- Hardwood Floors
- Heating – Electric heat pump and wood stove
- Public Water and Sewer
- Suddenlink Internet
- Built 2005
- 640 square feet
- All wood interior
- French doors
- Deck and patio
- Open floor plan
- Perfect for rental or guests
- Separate power meter
- Metal roof
- Metal siding
Google Coordinates: 37.725302°(N), -80.892473°(W)
Address: 73 N. Mullens Rd., Sandstone, WV 25985
Elevation Range: 1302 ft. to 1344 ft. +/-
West Virginia is one of the states in the US that has two ownership titles, those being SURFACE RIGHTS and MINERAL RIGHTS. A title search for mineral rights ownership has not been conducted. All rights the owner has will convey with the property. A mineral title search could be conducted by a title attorney at the same time when the surface title search is being conducted.
Summers County currently has no known zoning or subdivision regulations. However, all prospective buyers should consult the County Government and also the Health Department for any changes and details regarding zoning, building codes, and installation of water wells and septic systems.
DEED and TAX INFORMATION
Deed Information: DB 231 Pg. 674
Summers County, West Virginia
Acreage: 0.5 acre +/-
Real Estate Tax ID/Acreage/Taxes:
Summers County (45), West Virginia
Green Sulphur District (3)
Tax Map 31 Parcel 19; Classes 2 and 3
2021 Total Real Estate Taxes: $921.54
Summers County School District
Public Elementary School:
Hinton Area Elementary School
Public Middle School:
Summers County Middle School
Public High School:
Summers County High School
Concord University (nearby in Mercer County)
Nearby Brooks Falls is classified as a class III runnable rapid. Brooks Falls stretches over 1,000 feet of the New River, with a 10 foot drop. Sandstone Falls is located 2 miles downstream, (Scenic and trail use only). Nearby New River Gorge Preserve Hiking Trails are; Island Loop Trail, Gwinn Ridge Trail, Big Branch Trail, Sandstone Falls Overlook Trail, Camp Brookside Environmental Anglers River Trail and Sandstone Falls Boardwalk Trail.
Located just upstream and opened by the Electro Metallurgical Company (EMCO), a division of the Union Carbide Corporation in July of 1947, Camp Brookside provided a residential summer camp to the children of the corporation’s Alloy, WV plant. Boys and girls from ages 5 to 15 attended two week camp sessions on this “Isle of Fun” in the southern section of the New River. Many campers took the two hour train ride from Alloy to come to camp. The first railroad station that the town of Brooks ever had was built by the C&O for the Camp’s Inaugural Opening weekend. Historically, Summers County welcomed 2,000 EMCO employees and their families for this special event. Today the buildings of Camp Brookside have been renovated while maintaining the historic integrity of the old camps. Owned now and operated by the National Park. Opened in May 2016 for scheduled events, Camp Brookside Environmental Education Center serves today’s youth as a private residential youth camp and educational center along with New River Access Beach. The Beach and Boat Ramp are open to the public for fishing and boating access to the New River. Great spot to put in Kayaks or other rafts and let the current take you down stream to the property or fish awhile and enjoy the fresh air nature and sunshine.
THE BROOKS ISLAND EAGLES
The first confirmed breeding pair of eagles in the park established a nest in the winter of 2009 to 2010. The nest was sighted in a large American sycamore tree on the downstream end of Brooks Island, in the southern part of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. This pair of eagles laid two eggs in February 2010. Two eaglets hatched in March and were seen first taking flight in early June.Since 2010 there have been three different pairs of eagles using the nest on Brooks Island. One pair even built a new nest on the island and then went back to the nest in the sycamore tree. The New River Gorge is now home to additional nests . In 2017, in addition to the Brooks Island nest there have been two other nests spotted within the park, with at least one fledged chick. The Island is off limits to hikers to protect the Eagles, however the fishing is great off the Island point and the views are spectacular. Currently Eagles continue to nest on the Island and it has become common to see birdwatchers stopping along the scenic overlooks along Route 20 overlooking the Brooks Island to watch the eagles with telescopes, binoculars, cameras and the naked eye. The flight of the eagles and their skilled fishing is a thrill to watch. The Eagles are exciting to watch as they precisely locate fish in the river and sometimes glide or dive rapidly over schools of bass, pike or other fish. Typically the Eagle is successful and directly rises above the water to its nest or the shores with a great catch in its talons.
THREE RIVERS AVAIN CENTER
The Avian center is located at Brooks in an area just east of Camp Sunny Brooks. The New River Gorge is home to lots of animals, but the birds that fly high above this canyon have friends in low places. Those friends are located at the Three Rivers Avian Center in Brooks, WV. Three Rivers is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 and dedicated to wild bird conservation. Three Rivers makes an invaluable contribution to the Park and local communities through ecosystem stewardship. With public outreach programs designed to help people understand native birds and their ecosystems, TRAC has provided programs for nearly 200,000 people since 1993. Groups like schools, civic organizations, state and federal parks, and universities regularly request programs from Three Rivers.
HINTON is the southern gateway to New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. The town has a large historic district, railroad museum, antique shops, and restaurants. Two Rivers flow through the town. The Greenbrier River and the New River. There are great riverside vistas for a casual drives along the waterfront. Boaters, motorcyclists, fishermen and vehicle cruises on the roadways and the rivers are a common sight. Nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny mountains lies a place where the rivers flow and the eagles soar. A place where small town charm is around every corner and outdoor recreation is the norm. A place where porch sitting is earned after days spent hiking, biking, boating, and fishing. It is a place that remembers its past and looks towards the future.
NEW RIVER GORGE NATIONAL PARK AND RESERVE
The Newest National Park in America at your back door… An awe inspiring visit that is sure to bring a new experience each and every time. Once you see it, it’s something you’ll never forget. Rock climbers have long prized the sandstone cliffs of West Virginia’s New River Gorge, which was designated as a national park and preserve in December 2020. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is known for its 53 miles of free flowing whitewater that cuts through sandstone cliffs towering as high as 1,000 feet in the air. It boasts class III through V rapids and plenty of boulders to keep even the most experienced rafters engaged. The upper part of the river is calmer and more welcoming to new rafters. The area also boasts more than 1,500 climbing routes, as well as a 12.8-mile system of mountain bike trails built by the Boy Scouts. The New River Gorge itself is about an hour’s drive from Charleston, West Virginia. It encompasses about 70,000 acres marked with trailheads and visitor centers, and another 65,000 for backcountry hunting. White-tailed deer, river otters, and bald eagles are among the wildlife regularly spotted here. The Gorge is also one of the most popular rock climbing areas on the east coast. Over 1400 rock climb routes, around the gorge rim, are carved into a very hard Nuttall sandstone. Climbs range from 30 to 120 feet with the majority of routes for the advanced, but traditional and sport climbs are also available. There are moments, as you drift through the deep canyon walls of the New River Gorge, when it feels like you’ve got the whole world to yourself. It’s just you and the river, littered with massive, prehistoric boulders that were here when the coal mining camps were built, and the fur trading posts before them, and the Shawnee and Cherokee villages before those. In a river that geologists say could be one of the world’s oldest, you can lose yourself in time. Then the current picks up, and you’re back to paddling like mad, navigating the chutes and eddies of heart-pounding white water. Since the 1960s, West Virginia’s New River Gorge has drawn adventure seekers to its rapids and rock walls, and those rafters and climbers have long considered it a hidden gem. But the curtain is being drawn back on the canyon, because part of it has become America’s 63rd national park. New River Gorge National River’s 72,186 acres is just like its name “New”. The Newest National Park and Preserve in America.
We call West Virginia “Wild and Wonderful,” and this certainly is.
The Bluestone Dam spans the New River, forming Bluestone Lake, the third largest lake in West Virginia. With a 2,040-acre surface area, the lake provides boaters, water skiers, and fishermen with great recreational opportunities. The State of West Virginia operates Bluestone State Park with cabin rentals, picnicking and camping facilities. Also, a swimming pool, gift shop, two boat ramps, and a marina are operated for the convenience of the visitors. Camping opportunities are also available at the state’s Bluestone Lake Wildlife Management Area.
THE GREENBRIER RIVER
The lower Greenbrier River possesses the excitement of life on one of the nation’s great wild rivers. The focus of a vast outdoor-recreation destination, it flows untamed out of the lofty Alleghenies, attracting anglers, paddlers, and naturalists from across the globe.
At 172 miles long, the Greenbrier drains over 1.5 million acres and is the longest undammed river left in the Eastern United States. It is primarily used for recreational pursuits and well known for its fishing, canoeing, kayaking and floating opportunities. Its upper reaches flow through the Monongahela National Forest, and it is paralleled for 77 miles by the Greenbrier River Trail, a rail trail which runs between the communities of Cass and North Caldwell.
It has always been a valuable water route, with the majority of the important cities in the watershed being established river ports. The river gives the receiving waters of the New River an estimated 30% of its water volume. Over three-fourths of the watershed is an extensive karstic (cavern system), which supports fine trout fishing, cave exploration and recreation. Many important festivals and public events are held along the river throughout the watershed.
The Greenbrier is formed at Durbin in northern Pocahontas County by the confluence of the East Fork Greenbrier River and the West Fork Greenbrier River, both of which are short streams rising at elevations exceeding 3,300 feet and flowing for their entire lengths in northern Pocahontas County. From Durbin the Greenbrier flows generally south-southwest through Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Summers Counties, past several communities including Cass, Marlinton, Hillsboro, Ronceverte, Fort Spring, Alderson, and Hinton, where it flows into the New River.
GRANDVIEW AT THE NEW RIVER GORGE NATIONAL PARK
Located 20 minutes from the property you will find Grandview at New River National Park. Aptly named “Grandview”, this park hosts many opportunities to see the beautiful scenery around the New River Gorge. Grandview provides some of the most dramatic scenery found in the park and is a popular place for hiking, picnicking, and sight seeing. Grandview is a peaceful place to relax and unwind while enjoying outstanding views of the New River. From 1400 feet above the river at Main Overlook, visitors are rewarded with one of the most outstanding views in the park. On a clear day you can see directly into the heart of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, including seven miles of the New River and its watershed. From Main Overlook visitors can also get a glimpse of some of the gorge’s unique cultural history. From here you see an active railway and the town of Quinnimont, where the first coal was shipped out of the gorge in 1873.
Grandview is a great place to see the spectacular displays of The West Virginia State Flower the “Rhododendrons” that bloom here every spring. The purple Catawba rhododendrons bloom in mid May, while the great white rhododendrons bloom in July. Also found at the park will be the West Virginia State bird the male Red Cardinal a colorful representative of our state. The legislature officially adopted the black bear as the state animal of West Virginia on March 23, 1973. Black bears are found in all of West Virginia’s 55 counties. Other official animals of the state are the brook trout, honeybee, and the Monarch Butterfly
Grandview includes overlooks of the New River, a visitor center, five hiking trails, ranger-led walks and talks, summer outdoor dramas, and picnic areas with playgrounds. Grandview is home to Theatre West Virginia, which features outdoor drama presentations from June through August such as Alice at Wonderland, Oklahoma, Honey in the Rock, Tarzan, The Hatfields and McCoys Annie, Trumpet in the Land, Romeo and Juliet, The Wizard of Oz, Rocket Boys, Grease, Footloose, and many more. Each year a series is scheduled for live outdoor dramas in the park amphitheater. Every year is a fun filled season with audiences cast and crew all in the heart of the park. Natures backdrop.
Since 1961, “Honey in the Rock,” the beloved outdoor musical drama has kept the state’s story alive, performed each summer for thousands of West Virginians and tourists. GrandView is (West Virginians’) state theater. “There are beautiful theaters in several places in West Virginia, quality work, but this theater was built as the only place you can come to see the History in West Virginia. This plays a special role in southern West Virginia, because it tells our story.
Grandview was originally a part of the West Virginia State Park system. In 1939, the state of West Virginia purchased 52 acres of land at Grandview to develop a day use park. The Civilian Conservation Corps built roads, shelters, and a picnic area, all still in use today. Construction began in 1960 on the 1200-seat Cliffside Amphitheater. The children’s playgrounds, recreation area, and additional walkways were built from 1961 to 1964. After more than 50 years as one of West Virginia’s most popular state parks, Grandview was transferred to the National Park Service in 1990. In 2020 GrandView Became part of the New River National Park Service. America’s Newest National Park. Rightfully the “New” as many have and will always refer to the New River.
Aptly named “Grandview”, this park hosts many opportunities to see the beautiful scenery around the New River Gorge. There are also picnic shelters, a nice play area that includes a volleyball court and basketball court, and clean restrooms (with running water). The trails are clearly marked, with at least two main options to catch nice views, and also an easily accessible main overlook that is close to the main parking lot. The Turkey Spur Overlook can be accessed by a road, or visitors can walk the trail along the canyon rim from the main overlook. The trail is wide enough for at least a couple of people, and is well-maintained with gravel along most of it. Most of it winds through beautiful rhododendron bushes, creating an interesting “tunnel” effect. Turkey Spur has some steps to climb, but the view is worth the climb. From the top, you can see the Amtrak station at Prince and the historic Thurmond area below.
There is more to the newest National Park than the New River Gorge bridge. This former state park is now one of the must visits of the NPS. Here you have good hiking and fabulous overlooks. It also is a good balance for all skill and activity levels. Many of the overlooks at the main visitor center are easily accessible for ADA and young and old hikers. However, if you want a more active hike with rocks and ups and downs, go below the rim for the castle or tunnel trail. They are very exerting and they have great views of the cliffs that support the overlooks. However, the MUST SEE at Grandview, whether you drive or hike is Turkey Spur. Yes, there are a few stairs but the views from here on 3 sides are the best in the park, especially the bend in the river to the north. This is the only place you can view the river to the north.
Grandview is a MUST SEE.
West Virginia is a Fantastic state to live, play and work.
Welcome Home to “The Mountain State”
The Mountains Are Calling
- 10-40 min to Beckley, Princeton, Lewisburg, 80,000 acre New River Gorge National Park, 2,000 acre Bluestone Lake, Pipestem Resort and Bluestone State Park, Sandstone Falls, Winterplace Ski Resort and the 4-Star Greenbrier Resort, 3000 acre Summersville Lake
- A picturesque Amtrak train ride from Hinton or White Sulphur Springs connects the area to DC, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and many other locations
- Washington, DC is 5 hours and Charlotte 3 hours
- Charleston, Beckley, Lewisburg airports offer jet service to main hubs
- Charleston, the state capitol, is 1.5 hours’ drive and offers all large city amenities
- Easy access to I-64, I-77, I-79, US 460, US 19
- The Bechtel Summit Reserve, the12,000 acre Boy Scouts of America’s high adventure camp (50 min)
- The 14,000 acre Bluestone Wildlife Management Area is just up river at Hinton.
- Wildlife program enhances habitat, increases diversity, promotes health of the resident wildlife
- Cell phone coverage is excellent in most areas with 4G service
- Darkest of skies with little light pollution for star-planet gazing & astrophotography
- Fur bearing – deer, black bear, squirrel, rabbit, bobcat, raccoon, fox, chipmunk, opossum
- Winged wildlife – eagles, hawks, owls, ravens, turkeys and Neotropical songbirds
- Perfect for recreational activities, ATV riding, hiking, camping, and nature viewing
- Low taxes, low population density exceptional quality of life values
FIVE RIVERS AND TWO LAKES
The New River Gorge was a vast and largely unsettled wilderness until the C&O railroad was built on the eastern side of the river in the 1880’s. The railroad opened up the rich coalfields and virgin timber stands of the region. Early “mountaineers” settled the area and soon were carving out mountain farms and raising families.
All rivers and lakes are within an easy one hour’s drive from the property: Camp Sunny Brooks is located in the heart of the recreational mecca area encompassing the New River, Greenbrier River, Gauley River, and Bluestone River. Within this vast watershed lies the 2000-acre Bluestone Lake and 3000 acre Summersville Lake.
The New River, Greenbrier River, Summersville Lake, and Bluestone Lake are major contributors to the local ecosystem richness and diversity for both plants and animals. There are many animals that live year round and at other times in the water and around the edges of the rivers/lake, including beavers, otters, minks, raccoons, opossums, blue herons, Canada geese, wood ducks, mallards, king fishers, minnows, native fish, turtles, salamanders, newts, crayfish, muskrats, bull frogs, eagles, owls, hawks and redwing blackbirds.
Great fishing is found in the Greenbrier River, New River, and both Lakes with small and large mouth bass, crappie, catfish, muskie, walleye, pike and bluegill present in good numbers.
The New River is the second oldest river in the world, preceded only by the Nile; it is the oldest river in North America. The New River is unique because it begins in Blowing Rock, N.C. and flows north through Virginia into West Virginia. The Nile and Amazon are the only other major rivers that also flow north. Year after year, it produces more citation fish than any other warm water river in WV. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, sunfish, hybrid striped bass, and muskie are all common species of fish found in the New River and Bluestone Lake.
Bluestone Lake is over 2000 acres at summer pool and is the state’s third largest body of water. Great hunting and fishing opportunities abound at the 17,632-acre Bluestone Wildlife Area adjacent to the park and nearby Camp Creek State Forest. Summersville Lake is over 3,000 at summer pool and is the state’s largest body of water.
Nature viewing is first in line of recreational activities. Attentive wildlife management has been geared not to just game animals. Equal consideration has been extended to increasing the numbers and diversity of species including neo-tropical songbirds, butterflies, turtles, frogs, rabbits, chipmunks, dragonflies, owls and hawks.
Water-sports enthusiasts will find the New River ideal for swimming, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, tubing, snorkeling, paddle boarding and windsurfing. The New River is an exciting rafting and kayaking adventure destination. Fishing is noted to be some of the best in the Northeast.
Adventure Shining sunbeams and one-of-a-kind-adventures await this summer. Find tranquil trails, cool off in pristine waters and stay up late to find yourself surrounded by the starry night sky. When summer comes around, the fun begins in Almost Heaven.
like schools, civic organizations, state and federal parks, and universities regularly request programs from Three Rivers.
One local event that draws great interest is the Annual Migration Celebration at Little Beaver State Park. This festival, which takes place the second Saturday in May, is designed to help generate public interest in this cause in WV. TRAC also publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Raptor Chapter, filled with information on events, happenings and other useful tidbits.
Sandstone Visitor Center
This center, located just north of the I-64 and State Route 20 interchange (Exit 139), opened in the fall of 2003. The 9,800 square-foot facility features sustainable (green) design concepts for energy efficiency and resource conservation. In addition to the energy conservation elements,water conserving native plants were selected for landscaping at the site.
Visitors to the new facility will learn about the natural and cultural history of the New River and its watershed through interactive interpretive exhibits. They can view the 12-minute video program on the New River and purchase books and educational materials from the bookstore.
The Sandstone Visitor Center serves as a gateway to the southern portion of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve where visitors traveling along I-64 can stop and get oriented to the park and southern West Virginia.
Sandstone Visitor Center is a green design building.
The site around Sandstone Visitor Center is maintained as a native landscape. Representative local species have been planted in the native garden right outside the visitor center while the remainder of the site is maintained as a native grassland. Native grasses and wildflowers provide habitat and food for native wildlife while helping to contribute to resource conservation by not requiring additional watering.
In recent years milkweed has been planted at the site to encourage monarch butterflies to utilize the site. The Sandstone Visitor Center site has been registered as a monarch waystation to help preserve habitat for monarchs. In recent years we have observed monarchs in the garden and monarch caterpillars have built chrysalis’ in our milkweed plants. Worldwide, monarch populations are declining due to habitat loss, so providing milkweed habitats is essential for the survival of the species.
Sandstone Falls is a wide, wide waterfall on the New River a few miles north of the town of Hinton. The New River is about 1500 feet wide at the point it encounters a sandstone ledge. The rivers breaks over and around the ledge, creating an island and a number of falls of varying heights and widths depending on the level of the river.
There is no vantage point from which you can view the entire falls. The closest is an overlook high above the falls. A series of trails and boardwalks are located on the western edge of the river and they take you to some up close and personal views of different parts of the falls. Unfortunately the eastern edge of the falls is the highest, and you can only get distant views.
Sandstone Falls is a few miles downstream of the Bluestone Dam, but the river levels still vary considerably throughout the year. Floods still happen from time to time, during which the falls are basically drowned. It had been raining for several days when I visited, so the falls had plenty of water. A downside to this is that some vantage points that may be accessible during drier times were cut off by the water.
Sandstone Falls is located about 10 miles north of Hinton along River Road. Along the way you will pass Brooks Falls, a drop of only a few feet, and several very seasonal side falls. To reach Hinton from I-64, take exit 139 (the Sandstone exit), and head south on Route 20. This is a windy road that climbs up and down the sides of the gorge. The Sandstone Falls Overlook is located on this road.
Many of the fossils you can find are plant based and can be found in the same area as the coal deposits where minerals are found.
West Virginia fossil hunters know all about the more than 4,000 limestone caves that can be found throughout the state. These caves are the ideal location for stream and talus sediments to deposit and the cave itself offers the stabilized temperature and humidity that is needed for preservation. Together these elements combine to make the caves perfect for fossil hunting.
All mineral and fossil hunters want to find that one incredible piece, for many that would be an amazing dinosaur fossil. In West Virginia you might just find the Megalonyx Jeffersonii, the state fossil.
This dinosaur became the state fossil in 2008 though it became extinct in the Pleistocene Age. This Jefferson ground slow inhabited much of what is now West Virginia during the Ice Age. Mostly they spend their time knocking over trees and digging up ground vegetation with its long claws.
Our current day sloths hold nothing to this behemoth that stood at more than eight feet tall and could easily weigh more than 1000 pounds. Since its discovery there has been a lot of confusion about this sloth. Thomas Jefferson actually believed it to be a prehistoric lion and named it Megalonyx which means “great claw”.
The main areas that have found Megalonyx Jeffersonii bones have been in the Monroe County, Pendleton County, and Greenbrier caves. If you want to find your own you should search around those areas.
If hunting for coal doesn’t sound very exciting it might be helpful to remember how important coal has been throughout history. West Virginia made it their state stone to do that very thing! As you search just remember that it was discovered during the colonial times, as far back as 1742 with the very first coal mine opening in 1810. Even today you can find it in almost any county in West Virginia and if you’re wanting to round out your collection it can be a nice stone to add due to its important historical context as a unique part of the economy in this state.
Railroads formed the foundation for the rise of King Coal.
When West Virginia became a state in 1863, 90 percent of its population lived on farms. In 1870, only 85 coal mines were in operation. Most of the state, particularly Southern West Virginia, was still rural and isolated from industry.
Just before the Civil War, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad shifted the fortunes of what would become northern West Virginia—even shaping the new state’s boundaries. In 1873, the arrival of the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railway would have a similar impact on southern West Virginia.
Chesapeake & Ohio
Early attempts to connect the Atlantic Ocean and the Ohio River by rail failed. However, after the Civil War, railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington took control of the Covington & Ohio Railroad, renamed it the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O), and extended the line from Clifton Forge, Virginia, to the luxurious resort at White Sulphur Springs. Between 1869 and 1873, crews laid rails west from White Sulphur Springs and east from the Ohio River. The strenuous work was extremely dangerous and paid very little. The crews consisted principally of recent immigrants to the country and African Americans, many of whom had been freed from slavery only a few years before.
The crew’s greatest engineering feat was the Great Bend (sometimes referred to as Big Bend) Tunnel at Talcott in what soon would become Summers County, where the C&O engaged the latest steam-powered machinery to assist with the construction. The Great Bend possibly was the birthplace of the “John Henry” folk song, in which the legendary steel driver defeated a steam shovel in a digging contest. The song foreshadowed an age in which machines would take the places of workers.
C&O officials drove the final spike on a frigid day at Hawks Nest in Fayette County on January 28, 1873. The new railroad finally connected the nation’s East Coast with southern West Virginia, via the towns of White Sulphur Springs, Hinton, Charleston and the newly created city of Huntington—named in honor of the railroad’s president.
The C&O—along with two competitors waiting in the wings—served two main purposes: importing miners and exporting coal.
Norfolk & Western
Southern West Virginia’s second major railroad, the Norfolk & Western (N&W), traces its roots to three Virginia railroads that played significant roles during the Civil War and were merged in 1870. In 1881, the bankrupt railroad was sold to E. W. Clarke & Co. and renamed the N&W.
With infusion of money from the Philadelphia area, the N&W was completed through southern West Virginia to Pocahontas, Virginia. It quickly became the leading hauler of Pocahontas coal. The Pocahontas Coalfield boasted the thickest bituminous coal seam in the world—as high as 14 feet in some places. In addition, Pocahontas coal burned cleaner than other bituminous coals, or, as an inspired marketing executive dubbed it, “smokeless coal.” Overnight, the Pocahontas Coalfield—located primarily in McDowell and Mercer counties—became the most valuable coal-producing region in the world.
By 1892, the N&W had been extended to the Ohio River at Kenova, sparking the rapid growth of towns along the way, including Welch and Williamson. Bluefield’s population grew from 600 to 11,188 people in just 20 years. One small Mercer County town became a banking center for leading coal operators; Bramwell became known as the “home of millionaires.”
By 1900, the C&O and N&W had snaked branch lines into most valleys and hollows in southern West Virginia. All that was left were the rugged mountains in between. By the first decade of the 20th century, new machinery and engineering techniques allowed two entrepreneurs to construct a railroad where few believed it could be built—along the crests of narrow mountaintops and ridges.
The third major southern West Virginia railroad was the Virginian, the brainchild of coal operator William Nelson Page of Ansted and Standard Oil executive Henry H. Rogers of New York. In 1907 and 1908, crews were challenged to connect the former Tidewater Railway in Virginia with West Virginia’s Deepwater Railway. The 443-mile-long railroad was completed in 1909, linking southern West Virginia’s Winding Gulf Coalfield with the Chesapeake Bay ports at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The Virginian tapped previously unreachable coal reserves—namely in Raleigh, Fayette and Wyoming counties—by employing the heaviest locomotives and longest lines of cars. The ingenious railroad was an immediate boon to the towns of Princeton, Mullens, Glen Rogers and Glen Jean.
By the early 20th century, branches of the C&O, N&W and Virginian extended into every coal-producing hollow in southern West Virginia. Coal from the most remote valleys of southern West Virginia could be shipped to the Atlantic Ocean, Great Lakes and every major eastern market in a matter of days. These three railroads formed the foundation for the rise of King Coal.
Today you will find the railroad still active in the area with the exciting trains and their great contribution to our economy. In addition to the commerce trains are the passenger trains of Amtrack. Amtrack stations can be found throughout the region adding a terrific way to travel to an from the mountain state or take a scenic ride on the rails. The nearest Amtrack station for passengers is found at Hinton. Located ten miles from the property is the Historic Hinton Train Station where the Amtrack Trains regularly stop for boarding and destination passengers. At one time Brooks also had its very own train station now a memory of the past. Other active area train stations are Alderson, White Sulphur Springs and Prince West Virginia that has preserved the Art Deco Prince rail station as part of the New River Gorge National Park for posterity. The Trains still operated here and are a fantastic part of our history and our future. For more information on the history of the West Virginia Railroad visit the Hinton Train Museum only ten miles from the Sunny Brooks Property. Call now to see this amazing property along the shores of the New River.
From I 64 Sandstone / Hinton Exit:
Drive 6 miles on Route 20 South toward Hinton along the New River. Drive past the Sandstone falls overlook and the Brooks Island Over Look. The property is located at Brooks on the right. You will see Mullens Road and the sign for the Brooks Environmental Education Center. Turn right here. Drive across the tracks and turn right again. The property is 50 yards on the Left.
From Hinton West Virginia
Drive four miles on route 20 along the New River to Brooks on the left. You will see Mullens Road and the sign for the Brooks Environmental Education Center. Turn left here. Drive across the tracks and turn right . The property is 50 yards on the Left.
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