The Jug is located southeast of Middlebourne, Tyler County, on Middle Island Creek, the longest stream in West Virginia not to bear the designation of river. Here the meanders of the creek encompasses a peninsula of land by flowing southward for three and a half miles before reversing direction and returning to within 100 feet of itself. This big loop is shaped something like the handle of a jug.
Recognizing the potential for water power, George Gregg, an early settler of the area, had a raceway cut across the narrow neck of the peninsula where the drop between the two stretches of the creek was about 13 feet. Here Gregg had constructed, sometime before 1800, a gristmill and sawmill. In early days it was the custom of farmers living along the loop to float their grain to mill in a john boat in the morning, then while waiting for the milling, have their craft hoisted by windlass across the narrow neck and then drift downstream with the grist to their homes in the afternoon.
Gregg’s mill did a thriving business until being washed off by a flood on April 6, 1852. Later mills at this location were destroyed by floods in 1858, 1873, 1875, and 1884. Floods enlarged the mill raceway to the point that the creek, during normal flow, was diverted almost entirely through this cut. Thus by the end of the 19th century the Jug had became an island. The West Virginia Conservation Commission constructed a dam and bridge across the raceway in 1947, thereby restoring the flow of water in the original channel. Today the Division of Natural Resources owns and operates the vast majority of property within the Jug as a wildlife management area.
This Article was written by Gerald S. Ratliff
Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia vol. 1. Chicago: H. H. Hardesty, 1883, Reprint, Richwood: Comstock, Hardesty West Virginia Counties, 8 vols., 1973.
Gregg, Gladys. The Jug. History of Tyler County. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Pub., 1984.