Turn About is Fair Play

Turn About is Fair Play

Mountain Messenger, Saturday September 6, 2008

About 35,000 people live in Greenbrier County. Only 10,000, or 3 out of 10 of us live in those 8 towns; 7 of every 10 of us are rural dwellers.  The other 25,000 of us live out in the country.

Greenbrier County’s towns have taken turns at prosperity.  Each has also experienced decline.  Valiant volunteers and elected officials are busy all over the county, trying to improve their places.

Folks in Rainelle have shown me ways they are trying to reinvigorate their town.

What is now the town of Rainelle was virtually wilderness until the very early 1900s.  Travel was almost impossible.  Route 60 followed the old James River and Kanawha Turnpike.  The road was a dirt path in dry weather that rain turned into a mud bog.

The Raines brothers gave the new place their name.  The Raines founded the Meadow River Lumber Company.  It set up shop in Rainelle in 1906.  Meadow River Lumber Company was booming business for 60 years.  At one time, it operated the largest sawmill in the WORLD.

Andrea “Andy” and the other children of George and Helen Aide were among the children who played there.  Andy told me that the pool was a cement pond pool.  She remembers her brother catching catfish in it.  Must have been Richard, I opined.  Yep, it was her brother Richard.

Andy was 12 on that fateful day.  A few weeks ago, we stood on that site as she told me about it.  She shivered as she remembered that it was cold and rainy on that terrible day.

The old Brown Hotel lot became the Fayette Street Park.  In recent years, its playground equipment rusted.

Volunteers have organized Hope Project to build safe, beautiful places for all their children to play.  They want Rainelle to reverberate with the sound of innocent laughter.  Their first Hope Project is to rebuild the Fayette Street Park.

Deep in the earth, they have found what remnants of the Brown Hotel’s foundation and a very old antique bottle.

The Hope Project has more plans for Rainelle’s children next will be the 10th Street Park.

After 60 prosperous years, Meadow River Lumber Company sold its business to Georgia Pacific. Workers went on strike for health insurance.  Georgia Pacific closed down the lumber industry.

Rainelle now shows the devastating effects of losing of its major economic activity.

For more than a half century, Rainelle provided economic benefits for all of Greenbrier through payrolls, taxes, and as patronage of county businesses. Now, Rainelle needs help.  Turn about is fair play.

Rainelle’s children are our children.  May all of us who care about all our county’s children send donations to Rainelle Board of Parks and Recreation, Box 611, Rainelle WV  25962.

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