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Scott County, Virginia

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Clinchport Remembered

By B. E. Lane

Clinchport Fire

When we first moved to Clinchport in the early twenties, no one had cars but just a few people.  Buggys and wagons were used for going after food and traveling, etc.

I remember while at school during school hours seeing wagons going by loaded with eggs, corn, tomatoes, potateos, chickens, butter, etc. to sell at the produce market. That's how we had money. Those who owned land with timber sold their trees and used the land for raising cattle. This was a great asset for the farmers.

I enjoyed taking my mother to visit Grandma Bishop via horse and buggy. I felt as important as Margaret Truman being the driver. I was hoping the horse wouldn't get excited and run away.

The fire in 1945 was a desperate loss for some of the residents living in the town of Clinchport.

Someone looked out the window and said, "Clinchport's on fire!" They saw the Laura Bowling Apartment House aflame and also the Henry Kidd store building. The Cafe, Post Office, located on that side of the street and the Bowling Feed Store and the Bowling’s home, burned.

Fire trucks from Gate City came but there was no way to pump water out of Clinch river so nothing could be done to out the fire 

Everyone was happy the wind wasn’t blowing or the whole town would have burned, the fireman discussed.

The mail then was housed in a smoke house behind R. J. Carter’s residence, across the street from the Post Master.  Frank Wolfenbarger’s house and a new post office could be built.

Until the store buildings were rebuilt, the citizens learned to make out the best they could with what was left to do with.

My apartment was located in the Kidd’s Apartment Building.  I lost all I had.

The Clinchport Elementary teachers took the students up on the hill above Claude Carter’s and let them watch the fire.  My daughter, Barbara, watched and became terribly upset.

We all lived through that terrible ordeal and then the 1977 flood destroyed more homes than the fire did.

An that’s the way it was in 1945 and after the ’77 flood.  To have lived through that makes me believe we can stand up again after the 1977 flood and build again.

The Clinchport and Rye Cove Schools have produced more teachers, nurses, postal workers, lawyers, etc. than most any other schools in the big towns in the Ole Dominion state.

The boat dock being built at the location where Virginia Rhoton and family lived, prior to the flood, is a great improvement we are proud of.  We hope it will help to bring people into town.  For one thing at a time will soon help rebuild the town here hopefully.

There is plenty of land for flea markets, store building, cafes, etc. if there was enough interest among the town’s people.  We also have the Southern Railroad through the town.

Clinchport itself has changed considerably since those days.  There were three to four hundred people living in the area and business were plentiful in the town.  Along with the businesses already mentioned, there was Neely’s Beer Garden and Restaurant.  Neely’s also had a pool hall.  Going to Neely’s

Mill and watching them grind was always a treat for youngsters.  You could get a haircut at Jim Edwards’ Barber Shop for twenty-five cents, a shve or even a shower.

People coming into Clinchport usually stayed at the Clinchport Hotel.  This hotel had no shower facilities at that time, so you would often see the guest carrying their towels and clean clothes to Jim Edwards’ for a shower.

Among my fondest memories of my early days in Clinchport was the Clinchport Drug Company, which was run by my father, Eugene D. Fugate.  I remember working at the soda fountain, making Coca Colas, milk shakes, cherry cokes, dipping ice cream for banana splits, and other fountain sundries.

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