Fayette and South Fayette, West Virginia were established along the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C&O) when it was completed through the New River Valley in January 1873.
Fayette and South Fayette were developed by local landowner Martin Blume who made an unusual arrangement with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) as it was being completed through the New River Gorge. 3 As the railroad needed to acquire right-of-way from landowners, it pleaded with Blume to allow for it to cut through his land. Blume agreed to the right-of-way with one stipulation: in return for the right-of-way, the railroad had to guarantee free passenger rights for him and his descendants for as long as trains should run. The C&O agreed to the unusual ask.
Following the completion of the railroad, Blume founded the Fayette Coal & Coke Company and opened the Fayette Mine. 3 A community developed around the mine and a post office was opened in 1875. The mines were worked until 1916 with the exception of 1900-01 when they were operated by the Low Moor Iron Company under a short-term lease. 2 The mines were then operated by the Fayette Smokeless Coal Company until 1918 and then by the Reliance Coal & Coke Company until 1920. The mines were later operated by the Hood Coal Company from 1945 until 1950 and by the Fayette Low Ash Coal Company in the 1960s.
Fayette, which once boasted a population of over 400 in 1910, was all but gone by the 1950s. 3 The railroad station had become a flag stop and was closed by 1963.
Not long after the completion of the single-track mainline of the C&O, it required capacity improvements which led to the decision to double track through the Gorge. 3 The narrow level ledges of the river valley forced the C&O to build its second track on the opposite side of the river across from Fayette; eastbound traffic traveled on the south side of the river while westbound traffic traveled on the north side.
The town of South Fayette, or Fayette Station, began to develop as it included one of the busier railroad depots in the state. 3 The station served not only Fayette and South Fayette, but Fayetteville, the county seat. The two communities of Fayette and South Fayette were linked by a ferry between 1873 and 1889 until the Fayette Station Bridge was completed.
With the demise of mining at Fayette and the advent of the automobile, passenger operations along the C&O dwindled. The South Fayette railroad station closed in June 1963. 3
- Guide sign at Fayette Station Bridge.
- Dellamea, Chris. “New River Gorge.” COALFIELDS OF THE APPALACHIAN MOUNTAINS. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2014. Article.
- Bragg, Melody. “Fayette and South Fayette.” Thurmond and Ghost Towns of the New River Gorge. Glen Jean, GEM Publications, 1995. pp. 66-67.