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The completion of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in 1873 opened the New River Gorge in West Virginia to the coal and timber industry. By the turn of the century numerous coal mines were in operation, and many accidents were occurring in this hazardous occupation. The medical system was overwhelmed with the sudden population increase created by the mining and lumber industry boom, and improvements were urgently required. In recognition of this need the West Virginia legislature passed an act on February 24, 1899, providing for the construction of three hospitals, Miners Hospitals 1, 2, and 3. Later, all three would be known for the towns in which they were located. Named for its small community nestled on the east side of the deep New River Gorge, Miners Hospital No. 2 became known as McKendree Number 2. Miners Hospital No. 1 was located at Welch, with No. 3 in Fairmont.

McKendree Hospital started providing medical care on December 30, 1901. An interesting feature of the legislation that created these hospitals was that those engaged in hazardous occupations were to be treated free of charge. In 1903 about 63 percent of McKendree’s patients were miners. Patients other than coal miners were charged $1.59 per day in 1902. A two-year nurses’ training school opened at McKendree on March 1, 1910. McKendree was converted to a home for elderly African-American patients in the early 1940s. The hospital that had served the New River communities so faithfully was abandoned a decade later and was subsequently torn down.

This Article was written by W. Eugene Cox

Last Revised on January 02, 2019

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Cox, William E. McKendree No. 2: The Story of West Virginia's Miners Hospitals. Goldenseal, (Fall 1981).

Nyden, Paul. Mabel Gwinn, New River Nurse. Goldenseal, (Fall 1981).

Cite This Article

Cox, W. Eugene "McKendree Hospital." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 02 January 2019. Web. 23 July 2024.


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