Editor’s note: The following is reprinted, with permission, from Mary Keller Bowman’s “Reference Book of Wyoming County History,” published in 1965.
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In 1875 Ballard P. Cook and Will Browning, using money received from sale of poplar timber at $1 to $1.50 per tree, built a store at mouth of Coon Fork and stocked it with general merchandise. Cook had the post office transferred from Forks-of-Rockcastle to his store under the name of Rockview, from which the community took its name.
Young George Bernard Laxton, a carpenter, helped build the store and worked in the post office two or three years. Cook died in 1900.
Thomas Jackson bought the store and personally operated it until his death in 1936, living in a large house near the store. Both buildings were destroyed by fire in the 1950s.
In 1883, Godfrey Darbishire, an Englishman, came to Wyoming County as a speculator, expecting to make a fortune when the railroad came down the river. He selected the Forks-of-Rockcastle as a suitable base for his operations. He bought several tracts of timber, set up a steam sawmill, sawed lumber for sale locally, and put up a few flimsy buildings as the beginning of Darbytown on the tract of 129 acres he bought from Drury Halsey.
The N&W Railroad was not built through Wyoming County, his promotion failed, and he sold part of his land to a group of investment speculators, and left the state. For the next decade, the infant community was called Darbytown.
The Flat Top Coal Land Association bought the 129 acres from Darbishire and sent W.A. Miller, engineer, to survey and lay off a town site, which was completed October 29, 1892, and designated on the map “Town of Castle Rock.” Lots sold for $50 each.
However, the name did not take with the people. It took the name of the post office established for the community by John W. Cline under the name of Pineville. The county court officially settled the matter by order in 1907. The 1892 layout re-routed the public road through town as it is today.
In 1885, Lee Stimson and Gene Watrous, timbermen, left Oceana District and moved their families to Center District to continue their business. Stimson kept his commissary in the Darbishire store building (now hotel site) and stabled his teams near the Rock. Both built homes in Castle Rock. Both left the county in the early 1900s. Silas Jackson took over the Stimson store.
In 1885, John W. Cline, ex-sheriff, built a frame house for hotel and a store near it, on site of present G. E. Kirk home, which he rented and went to Davy. Richard Mitchell, timberman, rented the property and utilized it for boarding house and commissary until he put up buildings of his own at mouth of Pinnacle. In 1889, a new ford was opened at the same place. Not until 1917 was a bridge built at this crossing.
Beginning in 1905, with establishment of a bank at Pineville, many new homes were built and new families moved into the community. New businesses opened and new services became available, including a telephone office, Dr. Sparks’ office, a saloon operated by Sherman Paynter, boarding houses, restaurants, Swope’s Mountaineer, a community Sunday School and regular preaching services, subscription schools, a literary society, two livery stables, two blacksmith shops operated by I. B. Brooks and Silas J. Lambert, two more general stores, The Fountain, operated by Oliver Canterbury, who hauled his commercial ice cream, etc., from Davy, and an occasional dentist who stayed a few weeks each visit. A group of townsmen installed an acetylene plant and furnished lights to residents of the main part of Pineville. By 1914, model T Fords put the livery stables out of business and ushered in a new way of life.
Incorporated in 1907, one of the first improvements made was board walks along the most traveled streets, including a narrow walk along the creek bank, from the bridge to the schoolhouse. Incidentally, the town has the original record of its proceedings from then to date.
In 1926, the Appalachian Electric Power Company extended its line into Center District. The current was turned on the latter part of 1927.
In 1928-29, the Virginian extended its line through Center District down the river to Gilbert, and established a freight office at Pineville.
In 1936, the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company extended its lines into Center District for general use. Beginning with 40 subscribers, service has since then been extended into all parts of the county. Some years previous to 1936, the company installed telephones in the sheriff’s office, jail, home of the circuit judge, and one or two pay stations at a flat rate of $13.01, tolls extra.
Other improvements within the municipality in 1935-36 included paving of Second Avenue, concrete bridge built across Rockcastle Creek, Methodist parsonage built, Crews’ store completed and occupied, Robertson and Foglesong Funeral Service established.
Stewart Water Works first furnished water to residents in 1936-47. The town bought the system in 1947, issuing bonds to pay for it. Since then the lines have been extended to every part of the corporation. In 1964, extensive improvements were made at great expense. The water supply comes from Pinnacle Creek, with a filtering plant at the mouth of Pinnacle.