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Memories of Mark Twain High School

By Pauline Haga

Oh, to have my old high school building back. It was called Mark Twain High School and was located in Stotesbury, Raleigh County. It was Slab Fork District's most unique high school, and was filled with the writings and photos of the famous author for whom it was named.

The brick high school building was the brainchild of the coal company owners, who felt the children of their employees deserved the best. It was constructed in 1922 at a cost of $35,000, on a high knoll overlooking part of McAlpin and Stotesbury. From 1923 until 1977, hundreds of coal town children were educated there. It was home to some good memories.

During its heyday, Mark Twain High School had outstanding music and sports programs. Known as the Authors, the football, basketball, and baseball teams made local headlines. The school offered a fine library with all the Mark Twain novels on its shelves. The old building served grades one through 12 from 1923 until 1964. After consolidation in 1964, it continued as an elementary and junior high school until it was destroyed by fire in 1977.

Some of the coal towns served were Hot Coal, Big Stick, Woodbay, McAlpin, Stotesbury, Tams, Cooktown (or Ury), Helen, and Amigo. Before Sophia High School was constructed, they came from Sophia and Slab Fork to Mark Twain. One of those coal camps was my own, named Big Stick in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt who believed in walking softly and carrying the "big stick."

You can read the rest of this article in the Fall 1999 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.