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Look Back: Keeping the home fires burning

Coal

The undersigned have established a coal yard on the corner of Juliana and Littleton [Fifth] sts, and are now prepared to furnish to the citizens of Parkersburg with the best quantity of Wheeling and Pittsburgh coal for family use, at the lowest price. They will also keep on hand a stock of Piedmont coal for Blacksmith purposes. All orders left at our office will be promptly attended to: a liberal share of patronage is solicited. W.T. POOLE & CO

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Isn’t it a great comfort to have coal yards? Last year and near two years ago we were near getting out of [coal] fast.

We trembled for fear not to be able to get any either for money or kind words. At present we have only to go to Mr. Poole’s or Mr. Despard’s coal yard, leave orders there, and we are accommodated promptly. Coal yards were a necessity in our city; we have them now; therefore let’s sustain them by our ample patronage, and not buy our coal from transient coal dealers.

The Parkersburg Weekly Times

July 28, 1866

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Up to within a few years ago the supply of coal for domestic and manufacturing purposes came almost exclusively from the Upper Ohio river. The price per boat load delivered at Parkersburg averaged about 8 cents per bushel or $2.25 per ton. The retail price per load varies from 10 to 13 cents per bushel or about $3 per ton delivered at the house. During the past winter [1869], the severest known for half a century, when the regular price was cut off by the ice, the retail price of coal did not exceed 15 cents per bushel.

Within a few years Parkersburg has also been supplied with coal from Clarksburg, and Volcano in West Virginia, and occasionally from Pomeroy, 60 miles below here on the Ohio river, and more recently from Camden, Mason County, West Virginia, also on the river, where very superior mines are owned by prominent citizens of this place. In case the Ohio river navigation is impeded, the supply from Clarksburg is unlimited, coming from veins 8 to 10 feet thick, and many miles in length and breadth. Other mines are being opened west of Clarksburg, and the nearest developed vein is near Volcano, 23 miles by rail, but only 4 feet in thickness and of uncertain extent. … At what depth coal may be reached by shaft at Parkersburg is now being tested two miles east of the city. Coal cost at the Clarksburg mines [is] $1 per ton; transportation to Parkersburg $1.80 per ton. The gas in this city is produced from that coal which, as also the Volcano article, belongs to the fat bituminous kinds, containing from 57 to 60 per cent of carbon.

Excerpt from “Parkersburg City Directory 1870-1871” by David L. McKain

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Time limited

If you wish your cellars filled with your winter supply of coal, now is your time to give orders to Mr. Jones, at the coal yard, on 2nd Street, near O.R.R.R. [Ohio River Rail Road] depot, as after the first of August he cannot fill orders at the low prices he is now giving the public.

The Parkersburg Daily State Journal

July 10, 1888

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Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: roberteenoch@gmail.com, or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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