BEURY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Deep in the New River Gorge, after almost all people and industry left the rugged valley, one woman decided to stay and remain there until her death.
Born in the now ghost town of Dimmock in September of 1912 near Thurmond was a woman named Melcenia Fields, who moved to nearby Beury around the 1960s or earlier after the town had already been fully abandoned and its structures crumbling.
Beury, named after pioneer coal baron Joseph L. Beury, was a booming coal mining town similar to the others that lined the New River Gorge and it was once home to hundreds of residents.
Fields made her home in the Beury Mansion, which was not the elegant twenty-three-room structure it once was when she moved in and it was virtually in shambles along with the rest of the town.
Fields was bashful, she did not associate with people very much but did allow a few trusted locals to help her from time to time. Every time Fields needed groceries, she would hike three miles to Thurmond to get them. Several people along with railroaders offered Fields a ride to her Beury home but she always refused.
She was extremely protective of where she lived and would throw rocks at those who would just walk by as well as blurt out insults. Allegedly, she even called one bearded man the “missing link.” Fields got along more with animals than she did humans and allegedly often referred to fish and turtles as her children.
For entertainment, Fields decorated the abandoned town with metal cans and shiny packages. She also had a transistor radio in which she was able to listen to music and news.
She was undoubtedly smart as she was able to survive alone in the wilderness. During the winter, Fields would take blankets down to the New River and soak them so they would freeze and then she would hang them up over the windows and doors to prevent the cold air from seeping in.
On top of that, Fields also obtained food stamps which allowed her to get her groceries from nearby Thurmond.
Once the mansion became unlivable, locals ventured to Beury and constructed a shack for Fields to live in.
When Fields neared 70 years old she had become unable to walk to Thurmond and so railroad workers would stop the train at Beury and deliver her groceries and leave them at the tracks for her.
On one day in 1982, Fields did not retrieve the groceries that the railroad workers dropped off for her. The workers knew something was wrong and they then discovered her lifeless body in the shack. The town of Beury has been abandoned ever since.
Melcenia Fields, known as the Hermit of Beury, was buried beside the railroad tracks in Ingram Branch, West Virginia which is 16 miles from Thurmond.
The story of Fields’ life is an extraordinary one and a story many people will be talking about for years to come.