West Virginia History March 24, 2021
by Cristy 5 Of The Saddest Stories You’ve Never Heard From West Virginia History
West Virginia has seen more than her fair share of tragedy, and many of the terrible events that have occurred here were big enough to make the history books. But here are a few that happened on a much smaller scale… small enough that we doubt you’ve ever even heard about them before. But though they didn’t affect the same number of people as some of the mine explosions or bridge collapses or plane crashes West Virginia has known, they’re still terribly sad in their own right. Grab a tissue, and read on.
1. In the early morning hours of May 1, 1908, a burglar attempting to break in to the Rowlesburg General Store (Hooten's) in Preston County, West Virginia started a fire that quickly spread to the nearby structures.
Everyone in town was awakened and none were reported caught in the blaze, but since the town had no fire equipment, nothing could be done to quench the fire's fierce appetite; the entire town burned to the ground, an estimated $40,000 in damages (in 1908 currency).
2. In 1926, an outing to Pittsburgh turned tragic when a skiff carrying a large party of friends across the Ohio River at Mason, West Virginia struck a ferry obscured by darkness.
All the passengers were thrown from the skiff, and five of them drowned. Four were mothers of large families; one was a seven-month-old child of one of the victims.
3. A well-respected contractor in Wheeling was killed after a heavy spring rain in 1892 caused a raging torrent that collapsed a tramway used to haul stone for the construction of the stone arch bridge that carries Main Street across Wheeling Creek.
A tram car carrying a two to three ton stone came loose and careened toward the river; Mr. Carey was in its path and swept into the torrent with it. His body was never recovered, and locals at the time believed it to be pinned to the creek bottom by the giant stone.
4. A report out of Wheeling from 1889 gave brief mention of a devastating event: a resident of Brockton County (perhaps a historic spelling of Braxton County?) was cutting a tree near his house when it broke unexpectedly and fell directly on his house, perhaps in a similar manner to this fallen tree pictured.
The terrible accident killed his wife and three children, who were inside the house when the tree fell.
5. In the spring of 1902 in Wellsburg, West Virginia, a violent windstorm blew in the gable of the roof of a local church (not pictured) just as the pastor was beginning his sermon to a full congregation.
The wind then lifted the entire roof off the church building and it came tumbling down upon those inside. At least two congregants were killed, and many others were wounded, including the pastor.
What other sad stories do you have to share about tragedies that may not have impacted the state as a whole, but definitely left their mark on a select few?
Need some cheering up after this sobering dose of West Virginia history?
Watch some of our state’s most famous folks come together to sing West Virginia’s anthem.
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Address: Rowlesburg, WV, USA Address: Mason, WV, USA Address: Wellsburg, WV 26070, USA Address: Braxton County, WV, USA Address: Wheeling, WV 26003, USA