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William Nelson Page


Mining engineer, coal operator, and railroad builder William Nelson Page (January 6, 1854-March 7, 1932) was born in Campbell County, Virginia. Private tutoring as a youth and occasional studies in engineering courses prepared him to learn his profession by practical experience.

He directed the Hawk’s Nest Coal Company in Ansted (1878–85) and the Mount Carbon Company (1885–89) in Powellton, and built the Victoria Iron Furnace in Goshen, Virginia (1881–85), as he worked toward linking West Virginia’s New River coal to Virginia iron ore deposits. Page saw the Hawks Nest Coal Company through tumultuous times during the strike of 1880. From 1889 to 1917, he was president of Gauley Mountain Coal Company in Ansted and (1905–17) of the Loop Creek Colliery in Page. Secretly backed by capital from Standard Oil magnate Henry H. Rogers, Page directed the building of the Virginian Railway (1898–1909), a coal railroad running from Deep Water on the Kanawha River to Norfolk. Moving to Washington in 1917, he worked there to protect coal and steel interests.

Founder of the Ansted National Bank and incorporator of the Sheltering Arms Hospital in Hansford, Page belonged to the post-Civil War group of ‘‘New South’’ promoters who envisioned rapid growth and progress to be achieved by bringing English and New York capital into the Virginias for regional industrialization. He died in Washington.

Written by Lou Athey


  1. Peters, J. T. & H. B. Carden. History of Fayette County. Charleston: Jarrett Printing, 1926.

  2. Page, William Nelson. A Fossil Fern and Other Poems. Boston: Boston Stratford Co., 1925.

  3. Athey, Louis L. William Nelson Page. West Virginia History, (1985-86).

  4. Page, William Nelson. W. N. Page Papers. Charlottesville University of Virginia, Alderman Library.