Melvin Grade School — Floyd County, Kentucky

This is the former Melvin Grade School located in Melvin, Kentucky.
Melvin Grade School -- Floyd Co, KY The school is located along state highway 466 in southern Floyd County. The school was originally constructed in 1949 and replaced a one room school at nearby Abner and a three room school at nearby Weeksburry. Melvin Grade School -- Floyd Co, KY
The Melvin Grade School served the community for nearly 40 years.  A neat picture of 8th grade class from 1985 can be found by clicking HERE


The school closed at the end of the 1997-98 school year. The grounds currently serve as the grounds for a junk yard.

Wayland, Kentucky 41666

Wayland, Kentucky is located in Floyd County along highway 7 south of Martin.

Post Office -- Wayland, KY
The Post Office at Wayland was first established on May 18, 1914. Wayland was incorporated as a sixth class city in 1923. The population of Wayland peaked at the 1940 census at 2,888. Today the population is a little over 400.

Drift, Kentucky 41619

Drift, Kentucky is located along state highway 122 between the towns of Martin and McDowell in Floyd County.
Former Post Office -- Drift, Kentucky
The post office at drift was first established in 1909. The origins of the name DRIFT are unclear, but many think that it was named for a local coal mine or after driftwood found in the nearby left fork of Beaver Creek.

The United States Postal Service discontinued service at the Drift Post Office on September 12, 2009.

Old Clinchco Post Office — Dickenson County, Virginia

Back at the height of the coal boom in the early part of the 20th century Clinchco had approximately 3500 miners in the town alone.


This is the only coal company building still remaining in Clinchco and at one time or another housed a bank, barber shop, company offices, printing press, school rooms, mortuary, and post office.


Today, Clincho is a shell of its former self.  The school has closed but the post office remains in operation at a different location.

Pageton Grade School — McDowell County, West Virginia


Pageton Grade School is located in the unincorporated community of Pageton, West Virginia in southeastern McDowell County.  Pageton is located about 15 miles southeast of Welch on WV State route 161 about 7 miles from Gary.


Pageton is a former company centered town once powered by Page Coal & Coke Company.  The old company store still remains standing and has a place on the National Register of Historic Places.


Pageton Grade school appears to have closed in the late 1980s or early 1990s.  I assume students from Pageton were moved to nearby Anawalt or possibly Gary, seeing as how at the time when this school closed, schools at Gary were still in session.


As you can see the interior of the school has been let go very badly and like many other schools in this area has fallen into a state of decay.



As you can see, the word PAGETON is spelled out on the front entrance in the same font that is used at several other schools that were built in the 1920s and 1930s in McDowell County.   I assume this school was built in that same era.  It is probably most similar to the school at nearby Jolo which will be covered in my next entry in ths blog.



A Real Modern Day Ghost Town: Thurmond, West Virginia

Thurmond is a modern day ghost town located in Fayette County, West Virginia.


Today most of the town has been purchased by the National Park Service and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   Thurmond is unique in the fact that It was never a coal camp, but it was a coal town. It was a small incorporated commercial center in the New River Gorge, situated at the junction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad main line, which connected with the various small coal company lines that served the mines. Interestingly, Thurmond was accessible solely by rail until 1921.  Today the  town is accessible by state route 25 from US 19.


The town occupies a narrow stretch of flat land along the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad track, with no road between the tracks and the town.


Instead, a single-lane road crosses the New River on a single-track railroad bridge, crosses the main line, and climbs the hill behind the town so that it parallels the town 150 feet higher on the hill before dropping down next to the tracks.



The C&O station was built in 1888.


The original structure burned in 1903 and was replaced a year later.  Today It is a two story wood framed structure that was renovated in 1995 and functions  an Amtrak station and as a park service visitor center for the New River Gorge.


The National Bank of Thurmond building is a four story structure that was erected in 1917 by the Bullock Realty Company.


The building housed a jewelry store until 1922 when The National Bank of Thurmond purchased the building for $24,000.    The first level was originally cast iron store fronts but when the bank purchased the building they immediately began renovations and incorporated the cut limestone into their side of the building.   The National Bank of Thurmond was first opened in 1907 and was a victim of the Great Depression in 1931.


The Goodman Kinkaid Building is a three story structure that was constructed in 1905/1906 and consisted of two store fronts and two floors of apartments.


The Mankin-Cox Building is a three story structure and was constructed by DR. J.W. Mankin in 1904.  The building housed two store fronts and two floors of apartments.


This building was also home to a pharmacy operated by Mankin’s wife and the New River Bank and trust which remained here until they relocated to the National Bank of thurmond Building when they closed in 1931.  New River Bank and trust remained in Thurmond until 1935 when they relocated to nearby Oak Hill.


The Commisary was constructed by D.D Fitzgerald in 1929.


When the Lafayette Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1963 it took the towns post office which was located in the lobby with it.  The post office then moved to the commissary building where it would remain until 1995 when the post office at Thurmond closed.  The zip code at Thurmond is 25936.


At its peak, Thurmond boasted two banks, two hotels, two drugstores, two jewelry stores, Armour & Co. wholesale meat distributors, a movie theater, and several grocery stores and restaurants. The C & O Railroad had 15 miles of track on the Thurmond yards. The round house employed nearly 175 men and 20 local engines and their crews made their headquarters in Thurmond.

The town was placed on the National Register of HistoricPlaces in 1984.


During the 2005 election six of the town’s seven residents sought office.

The 2010 census lists the population of Thurmond at five and as those five pass away or move on to other places the houses and the land they sit on become property of the national park service and part of the New River Gorge.

Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church — Gary, West Virginia


As you turn the curve and enter the town of Gary West Virginia from State Route 103 you will notice that the great majority of the “town” that remains is across a bridge on the other side of the Tug Fork River opposite of the main highway.  The most prominent and arguably the most beautiful of these buildings is the Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church building which sits proudly on a hill in a mostly residential neighborhood.

What is interesting to me and will probably be interesting to many people from my immediate area is that Gary was a sister city to Lynch Kentucky in the fact that it was a company town, a very large company town built by US Steel.  Many say that Lynch was the largest coal town in the world at one time.  That point is often argued that Gary had it beat.

Due to the fact that many immigrants and migrants came to the area to work for US Steel in the coal mines there and eventually settled there is a diverse population.  I read that in the 1915 there were an equal number of white and blacks living in the city of Gary.  Where else in central appalachia could you find that?  Naturally this diverse population lead to a diverse offering of churches.  At one time Gary was home to more than 20 churches, 10 company stores, independent retailers, restaurants, tennis courts and even a bowling alley.

Slowly over time US Steel sold off the town and in 1971 US Steel oversaw Gary being incorporated into a town.     In 1982 after US Steel completely pulled out of the town of Gary and shuttered their operations the unemployment rate in the town of Gary rose to 90%.

As of the 2010 census Gary has a population of 983 and the population is still quite diverse for the area with 70% white and 27% black.  The schools here have closed as have most businesses including many churches.  But Our lady of Victory is still going strong…..107 years later.