RCDC Welcomes Assistance From Community

By Joan Browning

A hundred years ago the Town of Rainelle incorporated the community built over the past decade by the Meadow River Lumber Company.   It was a modern town.  Homes were built with indoor plumbing.  Scrap lumber produced steam for a community-wide central heat system.  Company and private businesses served the large area, as did a school and a church.

Rainelle was a bustling community for almost thirty years – until, along with the USA and the world, it was caught up in the Great Depression.

And yet even at the onset of the Great Depression, founder John Raine’s vision for Rainelle was not one of despair but one of rugged optimism.  In 1929 he said “The time of the temporary lumber camp has passed. The modern town with all advantages is ushered in; a permanent town, built to carry on.”

Rainelle bounced back to be “the largest individual factor in the economic welfare of the county [Greenbrier County] and this section of the state,” according to The Greenbrier Independent Rotagravure Edition of January 29, 1943.  “The Meadow River Lumber Company is not only the largest industry in GreenbrierCounty, but it is also one of the major hardwood mills in the country. The company normally employs approximately 500 persons, many of them highly skilled technicians, and since beginning operations in GreenbrierCounty has disbursed over $16,000,000.00 in the form of payrolls, exclusive of taxes, maintenance, operation, purchase of timber logs, and many other expenditures, which in the aggregate would make an enormous total.”

And so, for almost three-quarters of a century, except for hard times during the Great Depression, Rainelle was a prosperous place, realizing “pleasant economic and living conditions.” It was home to many employed “highly skilled technicians” as well as the doctors, lawyers, and merchants who served them.

Rainelle is still reeling from two almost simultaneous blows in the early 1970s.

Georgia-Pacific Company bought the Meadow River Lumber Company and closed the mill, later selling its timber holdings to Plum Creek.   Politicians isolated Rainelle by diverting the Interstate 64 Highway from a path following U. S. Route 60 to twenty miles south of Rainelle.  Rainelle went almost immediately from a prosperous town on the main highway to isolation far from the main transportation route.  Economic decline began.

And yet the “high morale and character” of the people noted by The Greenbrier Independent, many of them the children and grandchildren of Meadow River Lumber Company workers, are determined to carry on.  The Town of Rainelle, under the leadership of Mayor Andrea J. “Andy” Pendleton, along with the Rainelle Area Planning Commission, the Parks and Recreation Board, and civic groups like Lions and churches and the RainelleMedicalCenter and Heartland of Rainelle and businesses and others are newly energized to “build to carry on.”  They have conducted numerous environmental clean up projects, collecting roadside trash, electronics, tires, and household furniture and appliances.  They have begun improving parks and walking trails and the drinking water system and safe walks to school.  They are working on flood control.  They conducted a “Look Here” promotion to encourage holiday shoppers to consider local options.

The entire purpose of the Rainelle Community Development Corporation, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, is to maintain continuity of revitalization efforts through changes in elected and appointed officials.  The Rainelle Community Development Corporation will help Rainelle “carry on” by supporting every effort to revitalize its economic and social conditions.

The Rainelle Community Development Corporation needs contributions of talent, time, and treasure to encourage good jobs and good homes.


Contribution, Volunteer Form

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