Transforming the Appalachian Countryside: Railroads, Deforestation, and Social Change in West Virginia, 1880-1920

By Ronald L. Lewis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
CONNECTING THE PERIPHERY: COMMERCIALIZATION OF THE COUNTRYSIDE

Many lumber towns were commercial centers in addition to being significant industrial sites, depending on their scale of operations. The mills not only brought in workers from outside the region but also attracted job seekers from the countryside. As the population swelled, so too did the need for the social services required of a wage- earning population now dependent on others to produce their subsistence. Many lumber towns were incorporated, and the demand for services attracted independent businesses to augment the services provided by the companies. A middle class of businessmen and professionals emerged in the backcounties to serve residents in the new towns and countryside. The number of stores of all description, hotels, banks, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and clergy increased dramatically throughout the lumber towns and commercial market centers.

The large milling centers such as Davis, Cass, Rainelle, and Richwood attracted a comparatively large population, which in turn sparkled a significant expansion in commercial and professional enterprises. Davis was incor-

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