Frederick Platt hether mansion or office tower, all the diverse structures that architect Horace Trumbauer erected in West Virginia were built in the same city for the same family. Fairmont was that city, the largest in Marion County and its county seat. Less than twenty-five miles below the Pennsylvania border, the city had arisen on the western bank of the Monongahela River as it meanders up to Pittsburgh. What is more, Fairmont was the site of the state's largest coalfield, fuel for the industrialization that gripped the nation after the Civil War. Railroads that hauled the local variety of bituminous coal would in addition find it ideal for powering their locomotives, so that many an eastern line ran on Fairmont coal. Whoever controlled this coalfield could expect great wealth, and that was the Watson family. Often called "father of the West Virginia coal industry,"1 James Otis Watson would gather thirty-seven mines into his Fairmont Coal Company. Soon after he died in 1902 at age eighty-seven, his holdings became the farther-flung Consolidation Coal Company with his youngest child, Clarence, as its president. This switch is symbolic of the one taking place in American business around the turn of the
West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies – West Virginia University Press
Published: Mar 31, 2011
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