On October 26, 1988, President Regan signed the West Virginia rivers bill and the coal heritage bill into law. these bills were sponsored by sen. rockefeller and rep. rahall. both rockefeller and rahall have said that this bill will give tourism a big boost in southern west virginia.
The coal heritage bill directs the national parks service to conduct a survey of historic and cultural sites in southern west virginia.
in boone county at Nellis, west virginia, we have a historic mining community. when armco opened its mine at nellis, there were not many homes up and down brush creek. Armco had to build homes for their workers. They built nice five and six-room houses. some of the houses were frame and some were built of brick. One section of the little town of Nellis is still called Bricktown. ARMCO also built a club house for their unmarried workers, which was built of brick. The homes for the officials were on the same street as the club house, and they were built of frame construction, and were painted white. Most of the workers' homes were painted yellow. All the homes had bathrooms. They had a special home for the company doctor and the company nurses.
Armco also built a beautiful white stucco church. It had beautiful stained glass windows. It had a piano and an organ and very nice pulpit furniture and pews that would seat around two-hundred. It was a community church, used by all denominations. It had a church bell that could be heard all over the valley. There were many weddings performed in this church; also many funerals. There was a bible school every summer. the building was used for Scout meetings and for 4-H meetings. in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's there were several churches built up and down Brush Creek, and the nellis community church ceased to be used as a place of worship. In the early 1970's, ARMCO deeded the church building to the boone county board of education to be used for remedial reading and math classes and kindergarten.
at the nellis clubhouse, the residents were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everyone dressed for dinner. Every Saturday night there was a formal dance at the clubhouse - usually with a band from Charleston. there were several bridge clubs in the community and they played at the clubhouse on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
the nellis theatre building. This building is no longer standing. This building was the hub of the community. In the center was the theatre. Movies were shown every night except Sunday. the theatre seated around two-hundred. On the left side of this building was the doctor's office, and in another large room was the union hall. on the right side of the theatre was the confectionery. Here one could get cherry cokes, milkshakes, banana splits, sundaes, sandwiches, and even a bowl of chili. Also on this side of the building was the pool room.
the Nellis Company store building. This building had just about everything. They sold groceries, dry goods, furniture (including caskets), clothing, shoes, men's suits and hats, women's dresses, coats, hats, and children's clothing. They had a real butcher shop. You didn't have to go to Charleston or Madison to be well outfitted. The roads were too bad, and not many people had cars back then, so people shopped close to home.
nellis parks. Nellis had two small parks, one between the theatre building and the store building, and the other one in the triangle in front of these two buildings. The parks were full of evergreens, shrubs, and in the spring, all the beautiful flowering bulbs. Mar. Steve Genesee took care of the parks, he seemed to always have something blooming. Mr. Genesee also took care of the church and school grounds.
nellis school. there had to be a school built when the families of the miners began moving into Nellis. at that time the schools were under the district boards of education. peytona district did not have the money to build a new school for nellis. armco persuaded peytona district to make nellis an independent school district. armco then built a beautiful red brick school that housed all eight grades. armco hired the teachers and paid their salaries. after several years of operating the independent school district, armco turned the nellis school over to the peytona district board of education , and the independent school district ceased to exist. there is a rock wall around the front of the nellis school grounds that was built by the wpa during president franklin roosevelt's first term of service. the wall is still in excellent shape.
the nellis golf course. on the brushton hill, armco built a nine-hole golf course for their worker and for anyone else who wished to play. they also had two tennis courts, a very large picnic shelter, and a shooting range - all on brushton hill.
train service. that coal trains ran day and night, very often. there were two passenger trains daily - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. for ten cents you could ride from nellis to ridgeview for from nellis to brushton. the nellis softball team used to ride up to ridgeview in the morning, play a seven-inning game and ride back to nellis on the afternoon train. what fun! all supplies for the store and for the mines came in by train. often when people wanted to get into charleston, that caught the afternoon train at nellis, rode into st. albans, and got a street car from st. albans to charleston.
community pride. down throughout the years, the mining town of nellis received several state and national awatds for the appearance of the community as a whole. armco gave individual awards to the home occupants who kept their surroundings beautiful. there was pride shown in keeping the little town on the map/ whan armco left nellis, they made it possible for the poeple to buy the homes. all the homes are now owned by individuals and are being kept in fairly good condition. the pride still shows.