The Background image is a painting by William Ranney, Daniel Boone's first view of Kentucky, painted in 1849

History of Spruce

Spruce is the site of a once bustling town, built in 1905 to meet the needs of the woodsmen working in the timber atop Cheat Mountain. It was at one time the highest town east of the Mississippi, and certainly one of the coldest as well, in the east, and was accessible only by train. Today there is little evidence left of the original wooden structures. The site is along the beautiful Shaver's Fork of the Cheat.


With the completion of the railroad to the top of the mountain in 1901. The number of men multiplied as the cutting and shipping of pulpwood increased enormously. With the increase of workers three camps were formed. Near the top of the mountain camp2 was built on Cheat River. One mile up camp3 was built. The last camp up river was camp4 . Through the week these camps were occupied by workers. On Saturday they rode the log train to Cass. By Sunday afternoon they returned to camp on another train. This arrangement wasn't working well for workers with families. A proposal for the company to house the workers and their families arose. The company agreed to build houses.

The location for these houses would be near the "low place" where the railroad crossed over the mountain. With the construction of houses a town was soon formed. This town became Spruce.

The shipping of pulpwood increased. Most of it shipped with the bark still on it. This was ruining the pulp and rolls of paper. In effect hundreds of men were hired to trim the bark from the pulp with axes and spuds. Housing these men became expensive. In return a peeling plant was built. In 1904 Spruce was moved. This town was less from a mile from the original town. The first town became Old Spruce and the new town became Spruce.

The new town of Spruce had a hotel with 40 rooms, complete with a store which was a branch of the Pocahontas Supply Company Store in Cass, thirty five houses, and one school. The past office was moved from Old Spruce to Spruce.

At 3,853ft. Spruce was one of the highest towns in the eastern United States. At this height it was normal to have frost in the warmest months of the year.

There was no road into Spruce. All necessities and materials were brought in by train. Spruce had no cemeteries. Bodies of the deceased were carried out by train.

The mill at Spruce was operational from about 1905 to 1925.

In the winter months, logs were dumped into a steam heated pond. This kept the logs from freezing. These logs were then floated to a jack slip. This placed the logs on the main floor of the mill. The logs were then cut into 24 inch blocks which went to the rossing machine. The rossing machine was where the bark was removed. It took seven men to keep eighteen machines operating.

In the winter of 1905 480 men were employed and more to be hired in the spring.

In 1905 records list

E.P. Shaffer; Postmaster
O.G. English; Express and Tel. agent
J.L. Ervin; Shoemaker
Amos Lyons; Blacksmith
Robert Newcomer; Propretor Hotel Spruce
B.W.Watson;clerk, Pocahontas Supply Company Store
L.B. Smith; Blacksmith
O.B. Sprague; Blacksmith
D.J. Taber; Lumber Superintendent

In 1906 the population boosted . This year hosted many events for Spruce. The company hired a doctor in 1906. Dr. Uriah Hevener Hannah. He remained in Spruce until 1914 when he moved to Cass. He was replaced by Dr. H.W. Neal.

Spruce became incorporated in 1909.

In 1913 Spruce was the junction point for the Greenbrier, Cheat and Elk Railroad.

In 1920 Spruce built a two room School. The population was now up to 350.

In 1925 the mill at Spruce closed. The town was becoming smaller and smaller. Many of the workers moved to Cass or Slatyfork. They still continued working for the company.

On August 31, 1925 the post office closed. Several families still remained.

By March 3, 1927, Cheat and Elk river railroad were sold to Western Maryland Railroad Company. The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company paid a set rate for the right to use the tracks. Spruce was now basically used for assembling trains to Cass.

In 1939 Spruce had a boarding house, an engine house, and nineteen houses. All of this was operated by the Western Maryland Railroad Company. At this time Spruce housed eight Western Maryland Locomotives.

In 1950 the school was closed at Spruce.

There are no signs of life now at Spruce. No houses are standing. All that is left are concrete foundations of the mills, shops, and houses.


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