THE CEPHAS BOTTLING WORKS

The coal boom of the late 1800ís and early 1900ís created a metric ton of little towns in the Southwest Virginia, and Southern West Virginia, coalfields. Usually these towns werenít much more that coal camps set up by the operators of a nearby coal company. One of these towns was located across the river at Montcalm West Virginia as far as I can tell and was named after the Cephas Coal & Coke Company(4) which had opened a mine just up the road from the town which was located on Crane Creek. This townís name was Cephas West Virginia.

As to exactly when the town came into existence; however, it existed in 1903 when it was announced by Norfolk & Western Chief Engineer Charles S. Churchill stated that work was in progress on a railroad brand from Cephas, W. VA down the Bluestone River.(1) Cephas, W. VA had its own railroad station until August 1904 when the name of the station was changed to the Montcalm Station.(2) This was my first clue as to determining where Cephas might have been located as the Montcalm railroad station was located across the river from Montcalm itself in a small bottom now populated mostly by mobile homes. The station was the connection point for the branch of the railroad that ran up Crane Creek hollow to several mines and coal towns that were located there and the main line.

As Iím guessing that Cephas was located in a small bottom beside the bluestone river my best guess for the Cephas Bottling Works would be somewhere along it. It is quite possible that the bottling works was owned by the Cephas Coal Company as some coal companies did provide such luxuries to their workers, for a price of course, and usually many of the businesses in these coal towns were owned by the mines who paid their miners in script. Script was a currency that could only be spent as company owned businesses.

The last reference I find to Cephas is during the tragic events of June 10, 1924 when a two day deluge turned Crane Creek into a torrent that pushed train cars off of their tracts, washed many homes into the Bluestone River, and ended with several slate dump explosions further up the valley.(3) Cephas being at the junction of Crane Creek and the Bluestone may have seen the worst of this flooding. It might have been destroyed to the point of very little being left of the town itself, thus wiping it from the map and local memory.





This is a very old rail road marker beside the abandoned tracks crossing Crane Creek just a few yards from where the Cephas/Montcalm railway station used to be. The station is gone now along with the mines that used to dot the hills along Crane Creek.



The Cephas Bottling Works used Hutchinson Stopper bottles which would put the date of their operation prior to 1906 when the Food and Drug Act mandated that the capacity of the bottles were to be embossed on the bottles. The use of this type of bottle was falling out of favor at that point anyway due to the stopper being forced into the soda and taking anything that had settled on it with it.



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Biblography:

(1) Engineering News Record July 30, 1903

(2) The Official Railway Guide: North American Freight Service Edition 1905

(3) Macomas WV

(4) History of McComas, West Virginia