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One of the more interesting periods in the history of the Greenbrier River in West Virginia was its use to transport logs from the woods to the sawmill. Although some timber was moved on the Greenbrier before the Civil War, the major use of the river for this purpose was during the harvest of the white pine timber in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The St. Lawrence Boom and Manufacturing Company was responsible for most of the white pine timbering. In 1870 Col. Cecil Clay of Philadelphia began timber purchases in the valley and the company was organized the next year. Clay also laid out a new town, Ronceverte, at the location selected for the company’s sawmill. The name of the company came from an early name for the location of Ronceverte, St. Lawrence Ford.

By the mid-1870s, Greenbrier River log drives were becoming an annual occurrence. The normal pattern was to begin cutting the timber in the summer, with the loggers working from several logging camps. The logs were moved to the banks of streams and by late winter large piles of logs were ready for the high water to move them to the river and then on to Ronceverte. With sufficient water the logs could be in the booms at Ronceverte within a month of the drive getting under way, but usually it took several rises in the river to move all the logs to the mill.

The St. Lawrence company cut white pine timber along the river and on its major tributaries as far north as Deer Creek, near Cass, totaling 45,000 acres or more. The last log drive was in 1908, with the logs cut on Knapps Creek, which enters the river at Marlinton. Ironically, this last drive of the ‘‘white pine era’’ was made up of hemlock. The company continued in operation for a few years after the last drive in the river. In 1902, St. Lawrence began to receive logs from Anthony Creek by rail and built a second mill near Neola in 1909. The mill at Ronceverte was closed that year or the next.

This Article was written by William P. McNeel

Last Revised on October 29, 2010

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Cite This Article

McNeel, William P. "St. Lawrence Boom and Manufacturing Company." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 29 October 2010. Web. 12 June 2024.


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