Turning a Mole Hill Into a Mountain

Pennsboro News
July 7, 1949

High Officials Participate In Mole Hill-Mountain Program

This Ritchie county community, known for 92 years as Mole Hill, Saturday became the town of Mountain in a fitting pre-Independence Day program.

Shortly after 1 o'clock Saturday afternoon the sign, "Mole Hill Post Office," came down and the new black and white one bearing the words "Mountain Post Office" took its place while nearly 1,000 persons looked on and listened to the clatter of the hammers.

Mountain is located near the Tyler county line and eight miles from U. S. Route 50 and the municipality of Pennsboro. The change in the town name, being photographed by a nationally known magazine, was indeed an important event for this community, population of which is 93 persons.

In the group were Gov. Okey L. Patteson, U. S. Senator Harley M. Kilgore, Congressman Cleveland M. Bailey, and county officers. Various towns in Ritchie county sent delegations. Here from Harrison county were Postmaster Wade H. Garrett, of Clarksburg, Atty. J. H. Garrett, of Clarksburg, Atty. J. C. McManaway, Stanley C. Butler, and Fred H. Goff, Harold Miller, assistant to Senator Kilgore, also was present.

Citizens of Mountain take special pride in the fact that the community is the birthplace of John J. Cornwell, of Romney, distinguished governor of West Virginia during World War I, a weekly newspaper publisher and a retired vice-president and general counsel of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company.

Gov. Patteson, who gave the speech just before the town name was changed, lauded former Gov. Cornwell in his remarks.

"I am glad" he declared, "you have changed the name of your community to Mountain. It is very fitting, because West Virginia is known as the Mountain State. By geography and tradition, we West Virginians are a mountain people.

"The name Mountain is fitting for another reason. All through history, men have had great thoughts and great experiences on the mountain tops. Many of our nation's great men have come from our Mountain State, or figured in its growth and prospered in its development. Our mountains inspire - they give strength.

"In that connection, I am proud to recall that a distinguished former Governor of our State, the Honorable John J. Cornwell, of Romney, was born here at what is now Mountain."

U. S. Senator Kilgore and Congressman Bailey, who came from Washington to participate in the program, likewise lauded Mountain as an appropriate new name for the former Mole Hill community.

During their speeches the three men stood on a wagonload of hay to which two teams had been attached.

Rev. Manley O. Collins, pastor of the Wilbur E. U. B. circuit, conducted a prayer service as the name-changing ceremony began.

Senator Kilgore and Congressman Bailey worked with Postmaster General Donaldson in arranging for the name change. Just as soon as the change was official the local post office began stamping letters with the postmark of Mountain.

Those who had charge of today's program said that so far as they known there has been no similar program in the history of the United States. Anyhow, Mole Hill, W. Va., is now Mountain, W. Va.

An entertainment program followed the address.


West Virginia Archives and History