History of Clarksburg
Chapter VI

by Paul E. Maxwell
(Written c: 1975)
Submitted by Hiram W. Lynch

     On March 3, 1903 our family moved to the North View section. At that time the original corporation lines had been extended to include Glen Elk, only to the rail road and the official population was 4,050. The city directory of that year lists five schools, seven churches, six hotels, twenty four boarding houses, twenty seven saloons, six black smith shops, two carriage makers, two harness shops, twenty one dressmakers, seven milliners and numerous other small business concerns. Had the outlying villages of Adamston, Broad Oaks, Industrial, North View and Stealey been included as they now are, the population would nave been nearer 15,000.

     An outstanding show place, the Waldo Hotel, was newly completed. It was the first sky scraper type building in the state and by means of a hugh electric sign, proclaimed to be fire proof. For transients, it provided accommodations not surpassed in the entire country and for both transients and local people, its dining facilities were a source of delight. The main dining room was on a mezzanine balcony encircling the first floor lobby. It was elegantly furnished and featured a six piece orchestra for dinner music. Prices for a very good dinner ranged from seventy five cents to one dollar a quarter, not inclucing alcoholic beverages. These were served legally until the West Virginia prohibition law went into effect in 1914. Subsequent to that date, favored customers could obtain that service, under the table at prohibition prices. The Empire Building was under construction at the north west corner of Main and fourth Streets. This was a multi story, sky scraper office building and besides the bank housed the printing office of the Clarksburg Telegram for may years. Traders Building, located at the south east corner of Main and Third Streets, was the home of a bank, a hotel, an opera house and several small businesses. Before the Waldo, Traders Hotel was the town’s leading hostelry and shared its patronage with the St. Charles, Deison House, Walker House, Glen Elk and Capitol Hotels, the latter two in Glen Elk. Directly across Third Street was an outmoded Court House, which has long since been replaced with a modern one, on the same site. The post Office was in what later became City Hall, at Pike and Third Streets. The original St. Marys Hospital, then new, was on Washington Avenue near the intersection of south Chestnut Street.

     Recently installed, electric street car lines ran the length of Main and Pike Streets connecting Adamston on the west to Broad Oaks and Kelly Hill on the east. A shuttle line ran from the Court House to the Baltimore and Ohio Depot via Main, Fourth, Clark, and Fifth Streets, replacing a house drawn bus like vehicle which had served in that capacity prior the advent of electricity. The street car greatly expedited intra city travel, which until now had required mostly pedestrian activity. And made the outlying districts more accessible not only for utilitarian purposes but for pleasure as well. For a nickel one could ride around the loop in a summer car, enjoying the breeze and a close up look at our distant neighbors. For a dime, a ride to the end of the line and back for the same purpose. Street car lines were soon extended to Bridgeport, Despard, North View, Norwood, O’Neil and Stealey Addition. Around 1905, the Fairmont & Clarksburg interurban line began operation and before 1915, Weston and Wolf Summit were served by this company.

     All Principal streets were paved with brick and had either brick or flag stone side walks. Secondary streets were dirt and bordered with board walks for pedestrians. No paving extended beyond the city limits and as a consequence, adjoining communities, near and far, as well as the country side were accessible only by dirt road or rail. Six express trains were scheduled daily between New York and St Louis via Philadelphia, Washington, Clarksburg, Parkersburg, and Cincinnati. These trains had luxurious dining facilities sleeping and parlor cars as well as day coaches. In addition the main line between Grafton and Parkersburg had four daily local trains. The Monongehela division of the Baltimore and Ohio had four trains daily to Pittsburgh, passing through Fairmont and Morgantown. Evening trains from each point of origin had sleeping car service. Four local trains ran dail between Clarksburg, New Martinsville and Wheeling over the Short Line branch. The West Virginia and Pittsburgh branch ran four locals daily to Weston with connections to Richwood, Sutton and Webster Springs. Buckhannon and contiguous country were reached by way of Grafton.

     Trolley rides mentioned above were only incidental to recreational activities. Back water of the West Fork River above the Hartland dam created an impoundment winding for several miles through canoeing and skating in season and was widely used by both old and young. Several three ring circuses visited town each year and brought a holiday air to the entire city from early morning until the last tent had been struck at night. Hardly a week passed without a carnival holding forth on one several locations and the crowds they attracted attested to their popularity. Fraternal and civic groups sponsored brass bands which would give a free concert at the drop of a hat. Clarksburg, along with nearby towns and mining camps of the county supported a dozen amateur or simi- professional base ball teams and there was never a summer Sunday that one could not enjoy and exciting game.

     A prime fixture on the calendar of events was the County Fair, heralding the end of summer and the approach of fal. In the beginning around 1880 until 1912, it was held at the old Fair Grounds on the present site of Highland Park. Later it moved Norwood Park where it held out until operation was terminated around World War I time. Following was the theatrical season when Traders Opera House offered a succession of dramatic, musical, burlesque and minstrel shows throughout the winter, produced by road companies out of New York. A nationally famous burlesque, “Billy Watson’s Beef Trust Beauties” featuring a chorus line whose average weight was more than two hundred, came often and always played to a full house. After Traders burned in 1910, the Robinson Grand was built and could accommodate larger and better productions. Rail roads promoted frequent, week and excursions to Pittsburgh, Washington, Cincinnati, Wheeling and Richwood, giving patrons the opportunity to spend a few hours in strange surroundings and convivial company.

     High society was represented by a small, dxclusive group which gave formal, invitational balls at the Waldo or Oak Hall and participated in occasional fashionable weddings. They turned out for these occasions dressed in the light opera finery characteristic of the gay nineties and added a touch of color to our otherwise prosaic lives. Although not in the same category of amusements, prominent funerals were events to be remembered. With a near mile long procession led by a horse drawn hearse, the casket displayed through plate glass panels, closed cabs for the chief mourners and carriages of all descriptions carrying friends.

     As this chronological review ends in 1925, the country is beginning its entrance into a automotive and electronic age. World War I memories are still vividly with us and America has begun to emerge as a leader among the nations of the world. All of which are destined to make undreamed impact on Clarksburg history.

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