ohn Raine, (he and his brother were the founders of Rainelle), stated our town was built to carry on and we’d like to honor his memory and his vision by highlighting our heritage of lumber, coal mining and the railroads.
In 1906 Thomas and John Raine started buying the entire valley and surroundings that now is the home of Rainelle – over 100,000 acres of virgin hardwood. They then started building their lumber mill in 1909 and the Meadow River Lumber Company shortly became the largest hardwood lumber mill in the world! The quality of Meadow River Lumber’s oak flooring was famous and was ordered for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s ballroom in New York City. The Raine brothers then built and incorporated the Town of Rainelle, building houses, a school, a hotel, theater, fraternal lodge, a bank, the golf course, and the Methodist Church for their employees.
The brothers brought in the railroad by building a spur line, formed the Sewell Valley Railroad which connected to the C&O in 1907. The Raine brothers logging railroad used the same Shay engines that are now at Cass Scenic Railroad.
The Meadow River Lumber Company, which operated in Rainelle, West Virginia from 1906 to 1975, was the largest hardwood sawmill in the world. It had three 9 feet (2.7 m) bandsaws under one roof. In 1928, during peak production, its 500 employees produced 31 million board feet (73 million cubic meters) of lumber, cutting 3,000 acres (12 km2) of virgin timber a year.
Original painting donated by world renowned artist Max Hayslette a Rupert, WV native.
Established in 1912, this building is thought to be the largest structure in the world built entirely of American Chestnut lumber.
The Meadow River Lumber Company of Rainelle constructed this small building in 1928 as a sales showcase for their trims, moldings, and flooring for the Greenbrier Valley Fair in 1928. The building has remained a feature of the fairgrounds and is used for museum displays during the yearly state fair week. The architecture reflects the building materials produced by the lumber company, including popular features in the housing styles of the time.
In the fall of 2004, Danny “Greasy” Belcher, the Executive Director of Task Force Omega of KY, contacted Monica Venable (another former Principal at Rainelle School) about the possibility of Rainelle’s hosting a West Virginia Veterans’ Reunion over the Memorial Day weekend. His concern for the POW/MIA issues in this country had led him to join with Ray Manzo (founder of Rolling Thunder) in 1987 in an effort to educate people on the plight of our POW/MIA’s. He felt the rally at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington had possibly slipped away from its original intent. He recalled that Manzo had said in the early years that they should probably go to other towns each year to get their message out. After an initial planning meeting in Oct. 2004, plans were formulated for Rainelle to host the 1st Annual West Virginia Veterans’ Reunion and “L.Z. Rainelle” was born.
1906 – Mr. T. W. RAINE acquired 32,000 acres of land
1908 – Construction of houses began
1910 – Railroads built
1913 – Meadow River Lumber Co. (MRLC) built 11-room school house for grade school
1914 – Methodist Episcopal Church dedicated
1917 – High school classes begin
1922 – MRLC donated school to the Board of Education
1924 – Brick building erected for grade school
1925 – First high school graduating class – 14 students
1927 – First yearbook
1927 – Gymnasium and auditorium constructed
1931 – The Mountain Ranger, official school paper, first published
1933 – Won the Greenbrier Valley Championship in football; co-champs in 1946; champs again in 1951.
1939 – Band organized by Mr. Leslie Groves; discontinued in 1942
1939 – Quill and Scroll Society organized
1940 – National Honor Society chapter organized
1943 – Mr. Roy Coffman became principal, succeeding Mr. George B. Lanham
1944-45 – New high school constructed
1947 – Athletic field constructed as memorial to WWII veterans. Ground donated by MRLC
1947 – Band reorganized by Mrs. Phyllis Halsey
1952 – Hot lunch program started as project of the PTA: Mr. J. Leo Holsberry was the PTA president
Source: The Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society, Volume VII, Number 6, 2004, using a 1954 “History of Rainelle” included in the papers of Dr. John Montgomery, Superintendent of Schools for Greenbrier County.
Footage taken in Rainelle during the 1950’s. From the VHS of “Shays Lumbering & More”. Meadow River Lumber Co. #6
To see wonderful photo’s and learn about our history.