A woods walker recently discovered a historic marker in the Bear Fork wilderness designating the the Elk and Little Kanawha Railroad. which sprung up before 1910 as a necessity to get logs and barrel staves from the deep woods of the greater Bear Fork country of Braxton, Gilmer and Calhoun Counties.
Most fascinating today is the extent of the narrow-gauge railroad that came from Gassaway to Rosedale to Shock, and then made its turn up narrow Tanner Creek and then into the back woods. Eight miles of the track extended into Calhoun County, down Frozen to Left Hand and through a natural cut to a mill located on the right fork of Crummies Creek.
It was an engineering feat to carve the railroads and trams between and across the steepest of hillsides, bring heavy equipment to mill sites and maintain a labor force to cut, drag, mill and transport the product out of West Virginia.
The product was mostly barrel staves. Wooden barrels were used for hundreds of different products, including many that needed exporting and the Interstate Cooperage Company, owned by industrial giant Standard Oil, went to the task.
Much of the work force came from local residents, names well-known to us today, but some of the work force included immigrants used to heave, lift and dig their way through the deep woods, much of it on the 28,000 acres of the Bennett lands.
- The Hur Herald archives contains dozens of stories under TALES OF BEAR FORK