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Port Amherst, located five miles east of Charleston, on the north bank of the Kanawha River near the mouth of Campbells Creek, is an important river port and one of the oldest communities in the Kanawha Valley. Mary Draper Ingles made salt there during her captivity by the Shawnees in 1755, and a settlement grew around the salt spring. It had several earlier names including Reed, Dana, and Tinkersville. It was named Port Amherst in 1956, although many residents still refer to the residential community as Reed.

The Campbellā€™s Creek Coal Company from its beginning in 1865 shipped coal down the Kanawha River to western markets. The company and its successor, the Amherst Fuel Company, were unusual in that they operated their own coal mines and transported the coal on company-owned barges, having first brought the coal to the river on their own short-line railroad.

By the early 20th century, extensive marine facilities had been developed at the Reed terminal, now Port Amherst. This terminal featured a large rail yard, rail-to-barge loading facility, and shops capable of building rail and mine cars, barges, and steam-powered river vessels. Acquired by the Amherst Fuel Company in 1950, Port Amherst Ltd. and associated companies continue to provide a variety of services in the diverse field of marine and rail transportation, bulk material transfer, and shipment. Madison Coal and Supply, a Port Amherst subsidiary headquartered at Port Amherst, operates 18 towboats on the Ohio, Mississippi, Monongahela, Allegheny, and Kanawha rivers and provides a variety of towing services. This firm specializes in the transportation of bulk material and large equipment used for construction and dredging projects.

This Article was written by Todd A. Hanson

Last Revised on January 26, 2021


Hanson, Todd A. Campbell's Creek. Charleston: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1989.

Cite This Article

Hanson, Todd A. "Port Amherst." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 26 January 2021. Web. 25 May 2024.


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