Lost Huntington: The Buffington Mill
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 32nd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
HUNTINGTON -- Now part of Huntington, Guyandotte was a thriving place long before 1871, when rail tycoon Collis P. Huntington established the new town that would carry his name.
In 1810, the Virginia General Assembly officially chartered 20 acres of land owned by farmer and trader Thomas Buffington at the confluence of the Ohio and Guyandotte rivers as the village of Guyandotte. The village became a frequent port of call for steamboats traveling the Ohio and a daily stagecoach stop on the James River & Kanawha Turnpike. It soon boasted more than 40 houses and a growing number of businesses.
Constructed in 1856 on what is now Buffington Street, Guyandotte's biggest business was the Buffington Mill. In his book "Civil War in Cabell County, West Virginia 1861-1865," State Archivist Joe Geiger Jr. of Huntington describes the mill as being the largest on the Ohio between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. He writes: "Wheat was unloaded from steamboats and converted to flour. The flour was then placed in barrels and usually shipped south. The mill was a three-story building with an overhead runway which ran over Front Street and down to the Ohio River."
The outbreak of the Civil War saw strong support for the South in Guyandotte, with many residents leaving to fight for the Confederacy. A Union recruiting post was established in the village, which on Nov. 10, 1861, was attacked by a 700-man Confederate cavalry unit. The Confederates easily overcame the outnumbered Union forces, most of whom were raw, untrained recruits, but they withdrew the next day just before fresh Union troops arrived.
Angered by apparent collaboration between the Confederates and pro-South local residents, the Union troops burned most of the village - including the Buffington Mill.
The mill's tall brick smoke stack survived the fire and for decades stood as a lonely landmark in Guyandotte. It was finally demolished a number of years ago to make way for construction of a Buffington Street apartment complex.
For more Lost Huntington stories, visit www.Herald-Dispatch.com. Click on "News," then "Lost Huntington series."
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