Recollections of A. Peterson Christian of Simon, WV, provided by G. Pendleton Goode of Pineville, WV, January 1, 1944:
I was born on Spice Creek, Logan Co., now Mingo County, West Va. on Oct. 12, 1857 — Now 86 years of age, Son of Rev. Byron Christian, and grandson of James Pine Christian (1800-1892), one of the justices who organized Logan County in 1824.
About 1867, people began what we called saw-logging. Dr. Warren from Big Creek brought the first six yoke ox team to our neighborhood, used them two years and then sold them to Chapman Browning who lived on Spice Creek. There sprang up among us, what we called timber merchants, among those were Paren Christian, Chapman Browning, Col. John Buchanan, H.C. Avis, Blackburn Mullins and Epson Justice and many others. Besides hauling and rafting their own timber, they would buy rafts of other parties and run them to Logan Court House and sell others to John and Lark Justice and afterwards to Ed Robertson and James Nighbert.
I entered the logging business in 1875, on a small scale. Lewis Mitchell and I bought some timber and made up a raft, and when the river reached rafting stage, Brother Mont Lewis and I started down the river with the raft which swung across the head of “Island 16,” but when the big July 12th freshet came it swept our raft away and we lost it. My next adventure in logging was in the spring of 1876, when Mont and I bought some timber in the bluff opposite the mouth of Elk Creek and with some loose logs in “Island 16,” we made up two rafts, but there was no rafting stage that summer, but when the ice went out the next winter, both rafts went with it and we lost them also.
Rafting down Guyandotte River from Reedy to Logan Court house was a great art during the 1870s and 80s. There were different opinions about the bad places along the stream. People at Logan Court house thought that the river from Spice down was real bad; but the river men around Spice did not mind running from there down, but said that up Copperas Fork, the Betty Shoals, Staffords Mill, and the White Oak Cliff was too bad for anybody to run a raft. The river men around about Gilbert said that the river from there down was a little rough but they didn’t mind it, but from Epson Justice’s up to Reedy was so rough that no person had any business trying it. But when you came up to Big Cub, Long Branch and Reedy and talked with the old pilots, such as Jesse Belcher, Lane Blankenship, Peter Cline Jr., Humphrey Cline and Peter Cline Sr. and numerous other persons such as oar carriers and seconds they would say something like this, “Well, the river for a few miles is pretty rough, especially at Wyatt Toler’s mill dam, the Fall Rock, near Charley Toler’s mill dam, the Hickory Shute, the Leatherwood Shoal, the Big Branch Shoal and the Salt River Shute, but if a man has good judgment about the drain and the water he will have but little trouble.” So you see all depends on whom you are talking to as to where the rough is on the Guyandotte River. The only way to find this out is to go through on a raft yourself.
I remember very well the thrill I got the first time I went through the “Roughs” on a raft. I got on at the mouth of Big Cub Creek; in a few minutes we were at the upper end of Leatherwood Shoal. We worked the raft to the proper position in the hole of water just above the shoal. We could look along the top of the water to the upper end of the shoal but there was such a fall there we could see the water until we dropped over the upper end of the shoal. The bow of the raft struck a wave and the water flew over our heads. I was carrying the oar and held the stern down on the raft while my second held my clothes to keep the oar from throwing me off. From there on to the lower end of the shoals (about ¼ mile) as soon as the raft would rise on one wave, it would plunge into another until we got through the shoal. From that time (1876), I followed running from Reedy to Guyandotte until about 1890.
It took 4 men to run a raft from Reedy or Cub to Spice. Then 2 men could take it from there to Logan C.H. Then we would latch two of those rafts together and 2 men would take those rafts through to Guyandotte.
In 1889, the Little Kanawha Lumber Co. came to Wyoming County and began logging on a big scale. The winter was warm and rainy. All goods and supplies were hauled from Prince Station on the C. and O. Ry. The roads through Raleigh were so muddy that a four-horse team could pull only 1000 or 1200 pounds, so in April Alec, Henry Blankenship and I made a push boat 50 feet long and 6 feet wide and 18 inches deep. We landed it at the mouth of Reedy Creek and started to Guyandotte with five men. I had about $95.00 in money, and the men from here to Elk sent money by me to buy flour. When I left Elk, I had about $260.00. Among the men that sent money by me to buy flour were Burrell Morgan, Ellis Toler, Eli Blankenship, Eli Morgan, Sanford Morgan and Chapman Browning and the only one alive now is Burrell Morgan. We reached Guyandotte the 3d day, where I bought 45 lbs of flour, 300 lbs of bacon and a lot of other things and after laying over at Capt. Toney’s for 2 days on account of high water, we arrived at the mouth of Spice Creek in 8 days from Guyandotte. I received $125 per 100 lbs. freight which gave me a nice profit for my trip. At that time and long before the people of Logan brought their goods up on push boats.”
Source: Fred B. Lambert Papers, Special Collections Department, Morrow Library, Marshall University, Huntington, WV.