|Tuesday, 15 May 2007 00:15|
Beckley, where the government offices are located for Raleigh County, is the hub of life for 200 small mining and farm communities and railroad junctions. It is called "the smokeless coal capital of the world,m" and at one time produced millions of tons of the finest steam and domestic coal that could be found.
The town lies on a high plateau surrounded by lush valleys. The town grew rapidly after the railroad was brought in to serve the coal mining industry. The number of mines jumped from four to 100 by 1918. Smokeless coal became the standard fuel sought after.
Beckley had to wait a while to get the railroad and for its mines to develop because this sedate little town was originally passed up by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. In 1873 the railroad people built their line 10 miles east of Beckley. A branch wasn't brought in until 1901. Then the population grew along with schools and churches.
The Carter Opera House was built in 1906.
The town was first settled by General Alfred Beckley in 1838. He envisioned the town would be a grain and livestock center. The town was slow to develop and the first business wasn't opened until 1850. Because of this it was referred to as "Beckley's Paper Town."
It was occupied alternately by the north and the south during the Civil War.
In 1938 a monument was erected to General Alfred Beckley.
Raleigh County is in southern West Virginia on the Allegheny Plateau, where there is extensive bituminous coal mining. There are natural gas wells, too. Livestock is raised and fruit, corn, and tobacco are grown.
Named in honor of Sir Walter Raleigh, Raleigh County was established in 1850. The county's boundaries encompass some 610 square miles of area. Grandview State Park is located here.
Raleigh was an English explorer, poet, adventurer, and soldier who was favored by Queen Elizabeth. However, he was banished by the queen for secretly marrying one of her handmaidens and for intrigue that he became involved in. He later regained the queen's favor, but upon her death in 1603 Raleigh was stripped of his titles and lands, and later imprisoned in the Tower of London with his wife and son. He was eventually released in 1616 to search for gold in the New World. Raleigh was beheaded in 1618 at the insistence of the Spanish for his destruction of the new Spanish town, San Tomas.