Monday, November 30, 2009

Indian Community

Waitman Worthington McDaniel lived in and around Cecil. Some of his history was recorded and can be found at the Taylor County Library. In a certain section entitled “Mound Builders” a prehistoric “house or fort” structure is described. According to the information given “one side of the enclosure is a natural cliff thirty high and semicircle in shape.” It also describes evidence of a battle that may have taken place in this area. Quoting the text, “the back of a human skulls, human bones, and human teeth are among the ghastly relics which have been picked up.” It is unclear whether when the battle took place before David Tygart and Robert Files settled in the Tygart Valley in 1753. Whether or not a battle actually occurred will probably never be known. However, it is clear that an indian settlement was located in the Pleasant Creek area. The pictures below are of what I believe to be the natural cliff described in the story.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Tale of the Floating Church

As the waters of the Tygart River rose it began to reek havoc on the structures that stood in it way, one of these unfortunate buildings was a small white church. Swept from its foundation, it slowly drifted with the current. Surely it was a strange sight to see a church that was once filled with worshipers now filled with water and driftwood. This, however, was not the end of the church or of this tale. As if from divine intervention or heavenly providence the church was spared, plucked from the clutches of sure destruction and pulled from the waters. The church was hoisted and hauled to its present location near Knottsville, West Virginia. Worshipers once again filled its halls and the tiny church can now be seen as a symbol of rebirth and new hope.

I do not have definitive proof this event actually occurred, although some clues maybe gathered from the Federal Geographic Names Information System. According to the site found here the name of the church as been changed many times over its history. Some of the other names include Riverside Church and Cecil Church. These names seem rather odd considering the present location of the church miles from both a river and the location of Cecil. This evidence coupled with different sources speaking to it validity I tend believe the story to be true. The church in question can be seen in the following photographs. If anyone has any further information on the church please add a post or send an email.

Photos by K.A. Pitzer

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pre-Dam Maps

These map were created before the construction of the dam. It may be a testament to the size and importance of these small towns that they where placed on this maps. On the first map you can clearly see Yates, Stonehouse, Cecil, and Cove Run depicted on the map. The only town that may have existed but not placed on the map was the town of Sandy. It, however, can be seen on the second map along with Cecil and Yates.

Map #1 created in 1921

Map #2 created in 1922

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cecil Bridge

Areas once connected by bridges along the Tygart river where forever severed when the dam was built. The bottom half of Taylor County was in effect split in two by the rising river waters. Easy passage from one side of the river to the other was no longer possible. All of the connections forged between individuals or communities would be broken or drastically changed forever. This separation can be seen in a story that appeared in a local newspaper on June 24, 1937 describing the dismantling of the Cecil Bridge. According to the story, “dismantling of the Cecil bridge, made necessary by the construction of the Tygart Lake reservoir dam, has been ordered by the State Road Commission, and the span will be stored in its new location just about the Carr China company property in Park view.” The story goes on to state that the bridge would be re-erected near the “pottery.” It does not appear that the bridge was ever reassembled. There was, however, a small swinging bridge that connected Park View to the end of Maple Avenue. The remains can be seen in this photo. Connections between parts of the county where lost never to be rebuilt just like the bridge at Cecil.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Train Schedule

This B & O train schedule describes the various stops traveling from Grafton to Belington. As you can see the train stopped in Cecil as well as Cove run both of which are now covered by water. The schedule neglects to mention the other three communities that where located down the valley. They may not have been large enough to deem necessary a train station. Cove run which is located in Barbour County my have been a stop merely for train servicing reasons. I have yet to run across any evidence that Cove Run was an actual community, however, the search continues.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Scene of Destruction

During a trip to the West Virginia University Downtown library I ran across this picture. It graphically demonstrates the effects the building of the dam had on this portion of the Tygart River Valley. It appears that this photograph was taken shortly after the gates of the dam where closed for the first time. As you can clearly see, peoples homes are floating in the rising waters. Looking out at the still waters of the lake, it is easy to forget what was lost when the lake was born. This picture remines us of what once was.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cecil Moved Away

Cecil was once a “happy and prosperous community that might some day become as large a city as Grafton.” In fact as many as 400 people once lived in the town of Cecil. A Canadian owned coal mine was the main employer in the community. This, however, would change in 1923 when the company abruptly closed the mine, dismantling many of the buildings it had erected. According to the Postmaster, Mr. Balebridge* the population of Cecil dropped from 400 down to 50 in a months time. The town was no longer one of “hustle and hurry” and the “mercantile business was not what it once was.” The post office and store remained after the mine had moved on.

This newspaper article puts a new twist on the story of this small town. The real danger to Cecil may not have been rising water but in fact the loss of jobs. It is unclear thus far in my research what happened to Cecil for the next eleven years before the flooding of the valley. This story does shed some light on the approximate size and the types of buildings located within the town.

*This may or may not be correct the document is difficult to read