Nestled among the logging towns of Cass, Sitlington and Raywood, Dunmore was a booming little town with its own economy, including farms, stores and schools.
The original settlement was founded between 1740 and 1750 by a Lieutenant Warwick who was a surveyor in service to the British Crown. The land was settled by Warwick’s family, as well as McLaughlins and McCutchans.
In the 1800s, the Moores and Duncans became the majority land-owners in the area and combined their names to create the town of Dunmore. The economy centered around farmland until lumber companies set up logging towns, bringing workers and their families to the area.
The railroad came through Dunmore, linking the logging towns together and creating a need for supply stores. The town grew greatly and in 1874, the first school opened. It operated until 1912, when a new, two-room school was built just down the road.
During the 1930s and 40s, the town was a hopping place, with several stores, a hotel, mill, picnic area and even a beer joint.
Several Dunmore natives remain in or close to the town and continue to share stories of the beloved place they call home.
While he wasn’t born in Dunmore, Bill Lovelace grew up in the town and continues to live there today.
“My father was in the CCCs at one time,” he said. “He could come home on the weekends because he was in Camp Seneca. Often times, you never got to stay where you lived. You went where they wanted to send you. That was a godsend to people – talk about a lifesaver.”
The Lovelace family moved several times within the Dunmore area, and once lived on Curry/Heavener Road in what was called “Possom Hollow.
“We had a pretty good size place,” he said. “We had a milk cow. We raised our pigs for ham and, of course, mother canned, and we had gardens. Life was tough, there’s no question about that. That was right in the Depression days when people lost their homes.”
Like Lovelace, Richard Nottingham grew up around Dunmore. Nottingham would come to the main part of the town with his mother, where the family shopped at Pritchard’s Store and made mattresses in the factory above Bob Hiner’s garage.
“I remember the mattress factory, barely,” Nottingham said. “When I was a little kid, I’d come down there with her. I remember putting the mattress together. I don’t remember when it closed. I don’t think it was there very long – two or three years. It was during the war time.”
Pritchard’s Store was operated by Johnny Pritchard and was a typical general store with supplies for people of all walks of life.
“It had a little bit of everything in it – clothing, shoes and everything the farmers needed,” Nottingham said. “We sold our wool to him – sold eggs to him. I remember Dad paying the yearly bill with the wool. The wool would most the time take care of what he bought. With the eggs and wool, it mostly paid our grocery bill.”
Other stores in the town included a hamburger shop and gas station.
“Right beside the [Methodist] church there was a store, a big two-story building. Ben Campbell had that store built,” Lovelace said. “This little place over here was Katherine’s Place. My father-in-law built that.”
The town also had a grist mill where people would bring wheat and corn to make flour and meal.
“The old mill set across the road,” Nottingham said. “The water from the springs – there was a canal that came down along the road – it ran the water wheel to make the grain. It aimed the water in toward the mill and I remember them bringing wheat and corn and buckwheat down there to get it ground.”
The springs were located about a mile outside of the main part of town and were a source of local entertainment. Along with the supply of cold mountain water, the area around the springs had a picnic shelter, swimming pool and beer joint.
“They had a swimming pool, picnic shelter and what I remember about it was a beer joint and dance floor,” Nottingham said. “It got rough on Friday and Saturday nights. They had picnics at the shelter and had a nice swimming pool. The pool was just below the spring and it was back away from the road a little bit. There’s people still get water there at the springs.”
Remnants of the swimming pool are still visible today near the springs.
Nottingham worked on the family farm most days, but he would also find time to sneak away and hang out with his friends, John Hevener and Bill Waugh.
“I’d come down and get together with John or we’d meet up at the bridge there on Moore’s property and fish down to this bridge,” he said. “I’d have to slip off to go fishing and then I caught the devil when I got back. I had better have some fish with me when I got back.”
Nottingham was keen on working, though, because he saved his money for a very special item – a bicycle.
“I didn’t get a bicycle until I was fourteen-years-old and I had to buy it myself,” he said. “I saved pennies for years and I got the bicycle. I ordered it from Montgomery Ward. It came into Cass on the railroad, and I had to go to Cass to pick it up. I remember sometimes I’d get stuck in the rain and I’d go in that picnic shelter at the springs ‘til it let up. I put a lot of miles on that bicycle.”
Unlike most kids, Nottingham was driving a vehicle before he owned his first bicycle. At the age of 11, he remembers driving his mother and grandmother around in his father’s old truck.
“It was during the war and you could get by with a lot,” he said. “I split a block of wood – split it in half – and sat on one half, and put the other behind me so I could reach the pedals.”
Education in Dunmore was unique. The school that opened in 1912 was a two-room school. One room was first through fourth grade, and the other was fifth through eighth grade.
Stewart Galford and his sister, Maxine Moore, enjoyed going to school in Dunmore.
“It was great,” Moore said, sitting in the yard of the old school. “We had good teachers. We had potbellied stoves on both sides. If you ate ramps, you got sat out in the hall by yourself. We had hot lunch here. They had good cooks. We walked two-and-a-half miles to school. We were the first ones there. We built the fires and carried in water for the cooks, and we got hot lunch.”
The lunchroom was added to the school later. It was a former one-room school that was moved to Dunmore and connected to the existing school.
“I started school at the community center [Dunmore School] at age seven,” Lovelace said. “We had to walk. If you lived within two miles of the school, you walked. It wasn’t all road. We walked through the woods.”
The school is now used as the Dunmore Community Center where community events are held, including cakewalks, jamborees, dinners and breakfasts.
Bingo is every second Saturday, at 7 p.m. Square dances and jamborees are held the third Saturday of each month at 6:30 p.m. with a full country breakfast served every third Sunday morning from 8 to 10 a.m.