Glen Wilton, Virginia facts for kids
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Callie Furnace was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Glen Wilton lies between the George Washington National Forest and the James River, whose headwaters are about four miles northeast with the most narrow part being approximately a mile south, near the beginning of Wood's Island, CSX Railroad and James River Division, running parallel to the river.
Glen Wilton is the only community in Virginia in which there are no public roads passing through.
Mountain trails lead southwest to Roaring Run and north to Iron Gate. During the flood of 1985, the town of Glen Wilton was isolated for more than 24 hours, an emergency route was established through the mountain to the town of Iron Gate: however, with the heavy rains eventually even the emergency route became impassable.
Settlers arrived to the area in the 1700s as indicated by land transactions. There is evidence of Native Americans living in this area as well. A couple of Indian burial sites still exist today; Everett L.Tucker, Sr., now deceased, had a collection of Indian arrowheads, pieces of pottery, various tools and other Indian artifacts that he had found while walking to these sites (he never disturbed any of the graves during his walks).
Letters, often hand-delivered, were addressed as Upper James River or James River, Botetourt County. In 1837, letters sent through the mail were addressed as Clifton Forge, Botetourt County and/or Alleghany County. With the building of the Buchannan and Clifton Forge Railroad between November 16, 1876 and November 10, 1880 the train station was referenced as Wilton Depot, also for a short time during the 1880s the post office was called Carolina, named after the wife of D.S. Cook, the President of the Princess Furnace Company. By 1890 and as a result of the birth of the mining operation the area was then named Glen Wilton. Glen for the glen site it occupies and Wilton for Wilton Cook, son of D.S Cook.
In 1834, Archelius Reynolds purchased a large tract of land from Charlotte Davidson Pitzer; widow of the late Captain John Pitzer, Jr. In 1841, John Lewis Circle, Sr. also purchased land from Mrs. Pitzer. As a result, the area within a mile north and south of what would eventually be named Glen Wilton was originally owned by three families: namely, Reynolds, Circle and Wood. Archelius Reynolds died in 1863 and John Lewis Circle, Sr. died in 1875.
An act approved by the General Assembly of Virginia, March 27, 1876, entitled Buchannan and Clifton Forge Railway Company to incorporate and enabled James River and Kanawha Canal Company to subscribe to the capital stock. It was proposed to construct a railway from the James River and Kanawha Canal at or near Buchannan to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad at or near Clifton Forge. By 1884,it had become the Alleghany and Richmond Railroad, and shortly afterward, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company, and is now known as CSX. In May 1932, telegraph service was discontinued. Service from the four passenger/mail trains, No. 9 and No. 10 which went to and from Richmond daily and No. 32 and No. 33 which went to and from Lynchburg daily, was discontinued October 1957. Subsequently, the Glen Wilton combination station was closed and removed October 1962.
The Princess Iron Company operated in Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky and experienced many explosions during the period of its beginnings in 1876. Company houses were built to accommodate the increasing population. Iron ore mining was the chief industry until the furnace closed in 1923, having been forced out of business by the more economical Great Lakes iron ore operations. Ore was hauled from the mines to the furnace by rail.
Between Glen Wilton and Iron Gate is the Callie Furnace which was the very first furnace erected in Botetourt County after the Civil War. It was abandoned in the early 1880s. The Princess Furnace erected in 1884 and abandoned in the 1920s. It was the only modern blast furnace in Botetourt County. In 1974, the Callie Furnace was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Glen Wilton Colored School
In 1888, Joseph E. Circle sold land to the Fincastle District School Board for an elementary school for black students, from the late 1890s until 1941. The only known name for the school was the Glen Wilton Colored Elementary School and was located behind the Mount Bethel Baptist Church. It was a one-room school with a pot-bellied stove, heated by coal. Only one teacher taught all grades which only went up to the seventh grade. This teacher would come in early to start the fire and have the room heated by the time that the children arrived. School started with prayer, a song and pledge of allegiance to the flag. The black students never had the privilege of sitting at a new desk or using chalk from a new box of chalk. Everything was second hand and used formerly by the students of the white schools. The desks had some of the former students' names carved in the wood. There was no clock so the teacher and students would listen for the bell from the white school to know when school was dismissed. At the end of the day, students helped the teacher with the cleaning of the building. From the early 1920s to 1936 students went only up to the seventh grade. Some would repeat the seventh grade, not for reasons of failing, but as to continue some form of education. From 1936 until academic year 1940–41, the school served only the first four grades while students in grades five through seven attended the Eagle Rock Colored Elementary School, and high school students grades eight through eleven attended the Botetourt County Colored High School located in Fincastle. The black students had to walk to the far end of the Glen Wilton bridge to catch the bus.
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