Did you know that the building that now houses the State Fair of WV Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places? Why, you ask? The proper name of the building is the Meadow River Lumber Building, originally built by the Meadow River Lumber Company as a Fair display to demonstrate the product line of the Meadow River Lumber Co.. The building has remained on the Fairgrounds since its construction in 1928.
The Meadow River Lumber Company not only has a rich history with the State Fair, but also in Greenbrier County, Southern WV, and indeed the world. The Meadow River Lumber Company operated in Rainelle, West Virginia from 1906 to 1975, and was the largest hardwood sawmill in the world. The mill housed three, 9′ band saws under one roof. In 1928, during peak production, its 500 employees produced 31 million board feet of lumber, cutting 3,000 acres of virgin timber a year.
The plant included a planing mill with the ability to turn out a million feet of flooring, ceiling, siding and trim pieces a year. Six large kilns dried lumber for use in the planing mill. Three miles of lumber piles, some 40′ high, were stacked on the ten (10), 1,300′ long lumber docks. Major products included flooring, hardwood shoe heels, furniture and later, moldings & trim. By the time the mill ceased operation, it was the world’s largest producer of women’s hardwood shoe heels and flooring.
In 1913,the firm created the nearby town of Rainelle. Company-owned houses in Rainelle were plastered and papered inside, painted white outside, and designed for sanitation, with modern plumbing and electricity. Each had a yard and a garden space surrounding it.
Upon receiving this generous gift from the Meadow River Lumber Company, the State Fair has been able to utilize the building to showcase State Fair memorabilia from over the years; everything from Fair posters, to photos, to exhibitor guides, ribbons and more. Most recently the town of Rainelle has used the Museum to showcase their town and to create awareness of the all that is happening in their community.