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Babcock Lumber Company


Founded in Pittsburgh in 1887, Babcock Lumber Company was a major operator in West Virginia’s early timber industry and continues in business today. In the early 1900s, Babcock was the largest producer of hardwood lumber in the world, cutting more than 400,000 board feet per day. With timber, coal, and agricultural operations stretching from Pennsylvania to Georgia, the Babcock Lumber & Boom Company bought Thompson Lumber Company at Davis, Tucker County, in 1907. The assets included a softwood sawmill capable of cutting 100,000 board feet per day, a hardwood sawmill, box factory, planing mill, 40 miles of railroad, and 46,000 acres of forest. The Davis operation employed 500 men at its peak and remained in business until 1924. Other enterprises included a stone quarry for local construction, coal mines to fuel the steam logging locomotives, and farms in Tucker County producing thousands of bushels of potatoes, as well as cattle, sheep, and swine.

Babcock also operated a double band sawmill at Landisburg, coal mines at Clifftop, coke ovens at Sewell, and a narrow-gauge railroad connecting these operations in Fayette County, from 1912 to 1924. Babcock State Park was later built on the timbered-out lands donated by the Babcock Lumber Company to the state. The company continues today in wood processing and wholesale distribution, its West Virginia operations including a distribution center at Gassaway.

Written by William N. Grafton