The History of Spruce
Shared by Keith Moore
With the completion of the railroad to the top of the mountain in 1901, the number of men multiplied as the cutting and shipping of pulpwood increased.
With the increase in the number of workers, three camps were formed.
Camp 2 was built on Cheat River. Camp 3 was built one mile up the mountain. The last camp up river was Camp 4.
Through the week, these camps were occupied by workers. On Saturday, they rode the log train to Cass. But Sunday afternoon, they returned to camp on another train.
This arrangement wasn’t working well for workers with families. A proposal for the company to house the workers and their families arose.
The company agreed to build houses.
The location of these houses was near the “low place” where the railroad crossed over the mountain. With the construction of houses, a town was soon formed.
This town became Spruce.
The shipping of pulpwood continued to increase. Most of it was shipped with the bark still on it. This was ruining the pulp and rolls of paper. Therefore, hundreds of men were hired to trim the bark from the pulp with axes and spuds.
Housing these men became expensive, so a peeling plant was built.
In 1904, Spruce was moved.
This new town was less than a mile from the original. The first town became Old Spruce and the new town was known as Spruce.
The new town had a hotel with 40 rooms, complete with a store, which was a branch of the Pocahontas Supply Company Store in Cass, 35 houses and a school. The post office was moved from Old Spruce to Spruce.
At 3,853 feet in elevation, Spruce was one of the highest towns in the eastern United States. At this height, it was normal to have frost in the warmest months of the year.
There was no road into Spruce. All necessities and materials were brought in by train.
Spruce had no cemeteries. Bodies of the deceased were carried out by train.
In the winter months, logs were dumped into a steam heated pond. This kept the logs from freezing. These logs were then floated to a jack slip. This placed the logs on the main floor of the mill. The logs were then cut into 24-inch blocks which went to the rossing machine. The rossing machine was where the bark was removed. It took seven men to keep eighteen machines operating.
In the winter of 1905, 480 men were employed and more were hired in the spring.
In 1906, the population boosted. Many events were hosted that year at Spruce. The company also hired a doctor in 1906 – Dr. Uriah Hevener Hannah. He remained in Spruce until 1914, when he moved to Cass. He was replaced by Dr. H. W. Neal.
Spruce was incorporated in 1909.
In 1913, Spruce was the junction point for the Greenbrier, Cheat and Elk Railroad.
In 1920, a two room school was built.
In 1925, the mill at Spruce closed. The town was becoming smaller and smaller. Many of the workers moved to Cass or Slaty Fork, where they continued to work for the company.
The post office at Spruce closed August 31, 1925, although several families still remained in the town.
The Greenbrier Cheat and Elk River Railroad was sold to the Western Maryland Railroad Company. The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company paid a set rate for the right to use the tracks. Spruce was then basically used for assembling trains for Cass.
In 1939, Spruce had a boarding house, an engine house, and 19 houses. All of this was operated by the Western Maryland Railroad Company. At the time, eight Western Maryland locomotives were housed there.
The school at Spruce closed in 1950.
Today, there are no signs of life at what was the town of Spruce. All that is left are concrete foundations and bits and pieces from the mills, shops and houses.
Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County ~ 1901
The progenitor of the McCarty connection, and one of the earliest pioneers in our county, was Timothy McCarty, a native of Ireland. He settled on Knapps Creek previous to the Revolution, and was a soldier in that memorable war for independence. He could speak from experience that hard was the contest for liberty and the struggle for independence. With his humble hand, he helped to make the history that forms one of the most instructive chapters in the annals of human endeavors for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
His first marriage was with Nancy Honeyman, and they settled on lands now in the possession of Wilson Rider and the Gibson brothers near Frost; thence moved to Browns Mountain and opened up the property now in the possession of Amos Barlow.
By the first marriage, there were seven sons: Daniel, Preston, Justin, James, Thomas – the names of two not remembered. All of these sons were soldiers in the War of 1812, and but one ever returned to Pocahontas – Daniel McCarty – to live. The rest either perished in the war or went to Tennessee or Kentucky.
Timothy McCarty’s second marriage was with Jane Waugh, sister of Samuel Waugh of the Hills. By this marriage there were thirteen children. The names of but eight are in hand: Eli, Reuben, Samuel, Jacob, Nancy, Jane, Martha and Sally…
Samuel Waugh McCarty married Phoebe Moore, a daughter of “Pennsylvania” John Moore. Their children were James, George, Margaret, William, Elizabeth and Peter…
Peter McCarty was a Union veteran, 3rd West Virginia Cavalry, Company I. He married Elizabeth Araminta Hill, daughter of Aaron Hill on Hills Creek, and resides on the homestead near Dilleys Mill…
Timothy McCarty was one of those who stood faithful in the struggle for American independence. He is one of the few Revolutionary veterans buried in our mountain land.