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We are coming to the end of the recollections of Gardner which were recorded by John T Kroah in the 1984 edition of the Mercer County Historical Society’s History of Mercer County.

Before we proceed, I will let you know some of the future subjects for columns including history articles on Princeton Supply and the Princeton Railroad Museum; an article on Junior Spurrier; and a history of Blacks in the county. Also, if I’m exceptionally lucky, interviews with surviving members of the “Greatest Generation”. Any help you can give me regarding those subjects will be appreciated.

Returning to Gardner, numerous logging camps were located in the fields where the workers lived in until the weekends when they came to town. Farmers made money hand-hewing ties.

A lot of timber went through the mill, about 100 MBF a day if everything ran smoothly. The lumber yard stretched to the horizon with most of the lumber stacked between the mill and the hill.

The pond was just below Gardner Road .

Raised platforms and tracks for the lumber carts to run on were present. Fifteen to 18 million feet of lumber were present in the yard at times with the mill running a band saw and a gang saw at the same time.

There was a planing mill and a handle factory there. The latter also made barrel staves. A man named Vermilion reportedly ran the handle factory . Any connection to the Athens family of the same name is unknown. Robert Moody and Everett Noble also worked there.

The whole operation was run by big steam boilers fueled by wood slabs. They operated constantly and really built up the pressure. The whistle could be heard for miles. The logs were pulled into the mill from the pond by a jackslip.

The saws were operated by ropes pulled by trimmers.

Due to the source of lumber being depleted by too much cutting in too little time, the town disappeared. In 1917, the mill was dismantled and sent to Vancouver, Washington to aid the war effort. The people left also and the homes were used by the Mercer County Poor Farm until it was no longer needed. The area was abandoned until 1963 when the Forest Products Marketing Laboratory was established.

Today, Gardner houses PikeView High School and Middle School and the District 10 offices of the West Virginia Department of Highways, among other institutions.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at or Mercer Memories c/o Jeff Harvey, P.O. Box 781, Athens WV 24712 .

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