Webster County, West Virginia. Obvious are the mountains, forests and streams that adorn the county that many admire and enjoy – but let’s delve deeper into historical and interesting facts!
Without further ado, here a few interesting factoids you may not know:
• During the turbulent Civil War years, there was no government in the County and no taxes were collected. This lack of regular government gave birth to the so-called ‘‘Independent State of Webster,’’ which had its own ‘‘governor’’ by the name of George Sawyer. In 1865, at the end of the Civil War, the formal organizing of Webster County took place, and county and district officials were elected.
• The County seat was originally named Fork Lick for the fork in the river with salt springs that attracted wildlife and eventually people! The town was an important health resort for many years.
• Mollohan’s Mill – Constructed in 1894 on the banks of the Holly River, Mollohan’s Mill operated until 1953 when it was closed after a major flood destroyed its dam and washed away one of the water wheels. It was restored by the Mollohan family beginning in the 1980’s. With the exception of the dam and single water wheel, the original equipment of the Mollohan Mill is completely intact. Today it’s one of the only remaining turbine driven grist mills in the United States.
• Eli C. ‘‘Rimfire’’ Hamrick (March 28, 1868-April 1, 1945) was the Mountain State’s prototypical mountaineer. Hamrick was one of the best woodsmen of his time and was friend and guide to the coal and lumber barons who used the mountains for hunting expeditions. He and his younger brother, Ellis, were the models for the ‘‘Mountaineer’’ statue on the grounds of the state capitol.
• A magnificent sycamore that stood along the banks of the Back Fork of Elk River in Webster County about five miles from the town of Webster Springs was once considered West Virginia’s biggest tree. Foresters estimated its age at 350 years or more. The sycamore was estimated to be 112 feet in height, with a circumference of more than 309 inches, and a crown spread of 90 feet. In 2007, a fire was set in the hollow portion of the tree, and it finally fell over during the winter of 2009-2010.
• Webster Springs once held the largest wooden hotel in West Virginia. As the railroad expanded into Webster Springs and the salt sulfur waters gained a national reputation, the hotel expanded to 300 rooms. The hotel was destroyed by fire on July 20, 1925. It was said that you could see the bright sky as far away as Elkins.
• A small roadside park called “Last Buffalo Park” exists on Point Mountain. The area was recently cleaned up and is now accessible to travelers. It commemorates the last buffalo known to have existed in the area.