Look Back: Made in Parkersburg

Historical newspaper excerpts from the Wood County Historical Society

Photo Provided Novelty Mill, incorporated in 1877, and located at Court [Third] and Green streets, was perhaps Parkersburg’s largest and most successful flour mill. The mill had a capacity of 300 barrels of flour a day. It was the view from the top floor of this building that caused the reporter’s head to “swim” as reported in the item below.

Mills and factories flourish

The mills and factories of the city are all running full time and doing a booming business, with one exception.

The saw mill of Noah Athey on the Stewart timber tract, at Lee’s Hill, is cutting up timber at a great rate and will have that tract cut out this season.

The Ohio River Mill runs spasmodically, but turns out good stuff when it does run. This could be made one of the best mills in the Ohio Valley with a little effort.

The patent brick mills are booming and turning out that necessary article by the million. With the improved appliances at the various yards, it is thought that they can now keep up with the increased demand.

The flouring mills, Peerless, Parkersburg, Wade’s, etc., are all running full time, and in the aggregate employ a large number of men. A.C. Lowers, one of the former millers at the Peerless, has moved to Belleville with his family. He will try his hand for a while there at milling.

The Bentley & Gerwig Furniture factory is turning out all kinds of first class furniture, and are running full time and over. They have a large southern trade. Nearly a hundred men are employed here, and the establishment is one of the solid institutions of the city.

The Little Kanawha Lumber Company are running their works over time, filling large orders for their southern trade. They have contracted for the erection of a large ware-house in Cincinnati for the storage of some of their first class lumber for use in the wooden ware factories there. This company also furnishes the timber for the building of the ice harbor and other government works in the Pomeroy Bend.

The old reliable Parkersburg Mill Company had some trouble for a time with the costly new machinery they lately put in, but it is running smoothly now, and they are working full time to catch up with their orders. They are shipping immense quantities of sawed lumber of various kinds, such as shingle lath, plastering lath, plank, etc., to the headwaters Muskingum river in Ohio.

The Novelty Mill Company have had twenty-seven men employed for ninety days putting in about a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of new machinery, which will be in running order early next week. Mr. A.B. Graham took a STATE JOURNAL man through the establishment this morning and patiently explained the complicated cyclones, elevators, rollers, cleaners, purifiers, engines, etc., and their workings. One of the new corn mills (50 bushels an hour) was started today, and the whole mill will be in running order next week.

The view from the top story of the immense building is a grand one, but it made the reporter’s head swim to take it in.

The Parkersburg Daily State Journal

May 23, 1889


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical Society. Would you like to help preserve our past for future generations? The society offers informative monthly meetings and an interesting, 20-page quarterly newsletter. Dues are just $20/year. Send to: WCHPS, P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.