|The Early History of
Following the end of the American Revolution
the region surrounding the area that is now Mount Hope remained a wilderness isolated from
the civilized world of the white man. Even the Cherokee Indians that claimed the lands
occupied the area only temporarily during hunting and war expeditions.
Under the agreement of a treaty, the Cherokee nation sold
their rights to lands south of the Great Kanawha (River) on October 18, 1770 to the
Governor of Virginia. But conflict with other tribes that controlled areas north of the
Kanawha River soon developed. Indian tribes living north of the Kanawha River began to
stage numerous raids into the area that is now Southern West Virginia in an attempt to
control these lands. But the Indians' hold on the land would be short lived. On August 20,
1794, General Anthony Wayne won a decisive victory over the Indians at Fallen Timber,
Ohio. This victory ended the threat of Indian invasions and resulted in a treaty that
secured the peace for area's east of the Ohio River. As word of this treaty spread there
was a great rush of people westward into the frontier regions of Western Virginia and
Perhaps being influenced by the recent peace treaty, in
1796 William Blake Sr. decided to purchase a three thousand acre tract of land from
William and Sarah Austin. In the Spring of 1805, Blake and his family located on that land
becoming the first white setters in the area that is now Mt. Hope. The family at first
lived in an old Indian fort that stood near the present (1999) location of the town's
Middle School. Shortly after settling in, Blake constructed a log cabin to serve as living
quarters for his family.
The area that is now Mt. Hope was then a part of
Montgomery County, Virginia, remained remote and isolated, totally lacking of man-made
roads. Until 1786, an old Buffalo Trail was the primary route of travel through Fayette
County. Through the most rugged sections of the nearby New River Gorge not even the
buffalo had roamed, as there was not even enough room for large animal to travel within
confines of that narrow and rugged canyon.
despite the lack of an "modern" highway, Blake is said to have constructed an
inn for the accommodation of travelers within a few years after moving to Mt. Hope in
1805. Perhaps Blake's motivation to build the inn was due to his involvement with other
citizens of the region who were attempting to provide a transportation link for the
region. The building of a highway was a innovation being promoted by citizens of Fayette,
Mercer, Kanawha and Monroe counties during the early-1800's. Colonel Alfred Beckley, the
founder of the city of Beckley, was one of many future-minded citizens of the region
involved in formation of the company to see to the building of the turnpike.
According to an account written by Col. Beckley, the Giles,
Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike Company was formally chartered in 1843. A few years later, in
1848, the highway known as the Giles, Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike was completed,
stretching from the Giles County (Virginia) Court House to Fayetteville, West Virginia
(then still a part of the state of Virginia). The turnpike joined with the James River and
Kanawha Turnpike at Kanawha Falls which provided travelers with a transportation link to
The Giles, Fayette and Kanawha turnpike, ran through the
middle of what is now Mount Hope's business section, passing by the inn constructed by
Blake years earlier, which had come to be known as the Blake Inn. The location of the
Blake Inn is said to have been very near the present site of the Mountainair Hotel.
Undoubtedly Blake's business at the inn increased dramatically soon after completion of
the highway, as stagecoaches soon began traveling along the route of the newly completed
turnpike on a regular basis. Blake's lodging business should perhaps be regarded as the
first tourist business locating in Fayette County, an area now world renown for its
recreational activities and natural resources that attracts thousands of tourists each
Despite the building of the turnpike and resulting the
stagecoach line, the area remained remote and isolated. For the next forty-five years the
region would remain largely in its primitive state with very little development occurring.
During this period through the late-1800's, only three families lived in the general
vicinity that is now Mount Hope.
At some point during this period, some of the early
settlers began removing coal from a "coal bank" located in the area now known as
Turkey Knob. Another "coal bank" was also opened nearby in the area that is now
Glen Jean. The early settlers took coal only from the outcrops, mining coal from the bank
of the hillside rather than digging under ground. The settlers took the coal from the bank
of a hill, thus the term "coal bank" originated. It is unlikely that these early
settlers could imagine, even in their wildest dreams, how dramatic an influence this coal
seam would have on the area during the coming years!
The history of Mount Hope continues, with the story of the
it's development during -- The Birth of the Coal Industry