Nuttallburg, a once-thriving New River Gorge coal town, was located at the mouth of Short Creek on the river’s north side. Founder John Nuttall, born in England, traveled to America, established anthracite mines in Pennsylvania, and later pioneered the southern West Virginia coal industry. He bought coal lands on New River beginning in 1870 for $2 to $8 per acre. Nuttall worked hard to have his Nuttallburg Coal & Coke Company ready to ship coal when the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway was completed through the New River Gorge in 1873.
Nuttallburg’s population peaked in the 1920s at 500 residents, served by two schools, two churches, a powerhouse, store, clubhouse or hotel, and public water system. John Nuttall built several rows of coke ovens to produce coke for steel manufacturers. His oldest son, Lawrence W. Nuttall, secretary-treasurer of the company, was an accomplished botanist.
John Nuttall expanded his land holdings and late in his life built a seven-mile railroad up the steep canyon to open additional mines on the Keeney’s Creek headwaters. He died in Fayette County in 1897. By 1919, the Nuttallburg mine was sold to Henry Ford, the automobile millionaire. Ford mechanized the operation and built the world’s largest incline tipple in 1923. Nuttallburg was a mined-out ghost town by the early 1960s.
Today, Nuttallburg’s ruins provide a picturesque setting for the massive sandstone cliffs of Beauty Mountain called the ‘‘Endless Wall’’ by rock climbers. The turbulent whitewater below carries thousands of rafters annually past John Nuttall’s old company town. Nuttalburg was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Read the National Register nomination.
This Article was written by William N. Grafton
Last Revised on January 24, 2013
Cite This Article
Grafton, William N. "Nuttallburg." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 24 January 2013. Web. 24 March 2017.