The story of a forgotten America.


Pickens, West Virginia was founded in the 1890s as a lumber and coal mining community.

In 1862, James Pickens, Jr. was able to acquire 3,000 acres of land along the Right Fork Buckhannon River in Randolph County from his heirs when his father died. 1 He was able to lure a steam sawmill into the area in 1873 and assisted Senator J.N. Camden in forming the Pickens Lumber Company and extending the Pickens & Hacker Valley Railroad (P&HV) into town in 1892. 2

Pickens grew to include a diverse town center, numerous hotels, several hotels, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Catholic churches, and a sawmill. The town began to decline with the exhaustion of virgin timber in the region, and by the 1980s, most of the underground and strip coal mines along the P&HV were depleted. In 1992, the P&HV was dismantled between Pickens and Alexander. 4

Pickens today is home to 66 residents and is home to the annual Maple Syrup Festival that welcomes thousands to the community.


Further Reading

  1. Pickens, West Virginia: A Haven in the Hardwood


  1. “History.” Pickens, West Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2014. Article.
  2. “James & Mary Pickens.” Pickens, West Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2014. Article.
  3. Reger, David B., and D. D. Teets, Jr. “Historical and Industrial Development: Transportation.” Barbour and Upshur Counties and Western Portion of Randolph County. Vol. 1. Wheeling: Wheeling News Litho, 1918. 3-4. Print.
  4. Clarke, Alan R. “The Baltimore and Ohio to the Appalachian and Ohio.” The West Virginia and Pittsburgh Railroad. Charleston: Quarrier, 2008. 214. Print.


Add Yours →

I am not from there but my roots run deep in Pickens. I visit has often as I can. One day I am planning on spending a good bit of time there when I retire. I have alot of family still around the area. Pickens is my home away from home.

My uncle Oath had the Been Store in Pickens back in the day.
I don’t know if it is still there

Oath was my grandfather! The store is no longer there although I am not sure when it was torn down. I have not lived in Pickens since I was 12 years old, but still have an aunt who lives there and very good memories of when I did live there.

This is incredible! I have a turn of the century postcard of the Pickens Hotel, and there it is – one of the abandoned buildings in your article! I wonder if it’s still there. I would love to explore . I had to do a bit of research to find the old place so now the mystery is solved.

I have rode with my uncle Hance McCoy on the mail route from Webster to Pickens loved it . me and my sister was with him when my parents wrecked almost got killed but God .

I have lived here all my life and have NO desire to live anywhere else! Love the area and the people…we are all family!

I have visited Pickens many times. My Dad and I enjoyed the Maple Sugar Festival. Great community and really nice people.

My husband was born and raised at Fairview just a few miles from Pickens. We love going to Pickens and Helvetia several times during the year and plan on being there for the Helvetia Fair in September. The folks who still live in the area are very proud and hard working people and thanks to them the traditions have been maintained .

Mt. PICKENS is in Lewis county in the Wildcat area. If you take Wildcat Rd. to end of blacktop cross the the bridge make right when you top out you are at the top of Mt. Pickens.

My grandfather was an immigrant from Yugoslavia and worked as a lumberjack in Pickens in the early 1900’s. My grandmother was an immigrant from Austria and worked as a cook at her uncle Frank’s boarding house in Pickens. They met and eventually got married. Years later, they bought a farm at Pecks Run Station near Buckhannon.

We have been through there several times as a kid. And I also believe that there was a Pickens mountain. This was a big deal to us kids in the 60’s, having a town and a mountain with the same name as our last name. David Allen Pickens

I had a tent revival there in Pickens in 1992 and was a good meeting. It was sponsored by Rock Cave Baptist Church. Pastor David Jessie

Great town with a lot of history. I am the owner of the Pickens and Dent place. 600 acres of prime growing timber land.

For further reading see “Haven in the Hardwoods” great book about Pickens. The green house pictured above is the Doc Cunningham Museum, the traveling doctor (yes, on horseback) – many of my Aunts & Uncles had his name on their Birth Certificates. The Maple Sugar Festival in April is huge, Also don’t miss nearby (5 miles) Helvetia, WV – a Swiss Settlement established in 1869, see: They boast a fine restaurant, The Hutte Restaurant – German Swiss fare.

James was my 3rd great uncle, the article is not completely accurate. James’s father ,James, owned two large pieces of land .2000 acres in Randolph County and 4000 in the Duffy/Wildcat area of Lewis county. Upon James’s death James and one sister came to Turkey bone and James bought her out, James didn’t inherit or buy his sibblings out of all Pickens land holdings.The rest of the children stayed in Lewis county where some of their descendents still own some of the property.

Hello I am a relative. My great grandpa is Max Winfrey X. Pickens. I am trying to get further info on family tree and would love to visit soon. Please find me on Facebook at Torri A. Smith-Savage. James would be my great great grandpa. Max had a daughter Nellie and she is my grandma. Thanks and hope to hear from ya soon.

Great Pictures of a town I know very well. The Pickens & Hacker Valley RR was a 3 foot gauge logging line built from Hacker Valley to Pickens after the turn of the Century. The mainline to Pickens was built by the West Virginia & Pittsburg RR which reached Pickens in 1892. Allan Clarke wrote a book on the WV&P that has documented the building of the RR to Pickens.

I visited Pickens by chance just driving around the mountains several years ago. Since then have visited many times just to soak up the atmosphere. Plan on another visit in two weeks. Hope the people in the general store are still as friendly as ever. Looking forward to it.

Leave your comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Introducing the new 2024 Abandoned Kentucky calendar, a captivating journey through the hidden gems of the Bluegrass State.