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Writing in 1835, Joseph Martin noted that Lawnsville, as the county seat was then named, was “laid off in 1827, since which time a handsome [courthouse], clerk's office, and jail have been erected of hewn stone.” In 1852 the Virginia General Assembly incorporated the town as Aracoma, to honor Shawnee Chief Cornstalk's daughter, who once lived here, but in 1907 the community was officially named Logan.

The construction history of the Guyan Valley Bank (no longer standing), built in 1904, provides a sense of Logan's isolation just before the railroad arrived. Charles Bennett, an Italian stonemason with an anglicized name, built the “Old Stone Bank” of sandstone quarried in nearby Stratton Hollow, and bricks were fired locally from clay dug from the basement excavation. Lumber and lime for mortar were transported up the Guyandottle River in boats.

In 1905, after the railroad arrived, Manufacturers' Recordnoted Logan's transformation from a “slow-growing mountain town” with “a jail where Hatfield feudists were sometimes confined when it didn't suit their purpose to break out” to a “busy center of trade and industry.” The Recordwas particularly impressed with Logan's “brick and stone buildings … stone sidewalks … water-works and sewerage system, and … electric lights.” Architects from Huntington and Charleston designed many of those brick and stone buildings. The prominent Cincinnati firm of Weber, Werner and Adkins was responsible for two major structures—the high school (1914) and Aracoma Hotel (1916).

In 1940 Logan's population peaked at 5,166. In 2000 the city's population stood at only 1,630. Like so many county seats and trading centers in West Virginia's coal country, Logan's downtown commercial district appears far larger than its own population could ever have supported, even during its prime.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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