RAINELLE, WV (LOOTPRESS) – A town settled in a quaint valley at the base of Sewell and Sims Mountain and bisected by the Meadow River was once home to the largest hardwood sawmill in the world.
Rainelle has seen its good and bad days throughout history as every other town has, but Rainelle, through it all, has survived the test of time. As the motto goes, Rainelle is “A Town Built to Carry On” after all.
The Meadow River Lumber Company operated in Rainelle, West Virginia for nearly 70 years from 1906 to 1975. The mill boasted three, 9-foot-long bandsaws. At one time, the sawmill employed nearly 500 employees and was producing 31 million board feet of lumber and cutting 3,000 acres of timber per year.
This lumber had to be shipped someway, and with its location being 20 miles away from the nearest railroad mainline, a spur had to be built. The spur, first formed as the Sewell Valley Railroad Co. and then the Meadow River Railroad was first used to bring in materials to the area and then turned into the main artery of shipping out fresh Meadow River Lumber from Rainelle.
In 1913, the Town of Rainelle was officially incorporated. The town was home to multiple company-owned houses that were built side by side; many still stand today and can be seen at the western end of town.
The original sawmill burnt down in 1924 and was rebuilt by March of the following year. The business was sold to the Georgia-Pacific Corporation in 1970 and the mill closed five years later.
The Meadow River Lumber Company produced many things in Rainelle such as flooring, hardwood shoe heels, furniture, and later moldings and trim. At one time, it was the largest producer of women’s hardwood shoe heels and flooring in the world.
Whether it be the burning of the mill or its closure, or more recently the flood of 2016, the people of Rainelle have persevered and the town is still home to over 1,000 people today. The town still has a police & fire department, post office, and town council.