Powell County Town Was Quite Prosperous In 1890
Clay City Was Once Home To A Large Lumber Mill


Author Unknown
The Winchester Democrat - 1890

On the 17th inst., business called us to the beautiful gateway city of the mountains, Clay City. On boarding the train at Winchester, the first man to greet us was Deputy Sheriff Mathers of Clay City, whom we found to be a very pleasant gentleman. Mr. Mathers was conductor on the K. U. for four years, resigning his position only a short time ago.

Arriving at Clay City we were greatly surprised at its growth and prosperity. We had heard and read of its rapid transit from a desolate river bottom covered with broom sage and brush to a prosperous city, but failed to realize it until we had seen for ourselves.

We were shown over the city by that prince of good fellows, W. C. Brown, a nephew of E. M. Brown, general superintendent of the company's works. Here we find one of the largest lumber mills south of the Ohio River. It is equipped with 13 boilers and a mammoth engine of 940 horsepower, two handsaws, one circular saw, and one gangsaw; with a total capacity of 200,000 feet per day. There is connected with this mill a dry house containing 16 bins (each 14 x 85 feet) with blowers attached for drying lumber.


A recent map showing the Clay City/Stanton area.

This great mill is situated near the "cut off," which was dammed in the construction of the railroad forming a bayou into which the logs are floated. There is a boom extending many miles up the river. Logs are taken from the boom and floated down a canal from the dam to the bayou. This mill gives employment of 300 men.

There is also in the course of construction one of the largest planing mills in the South; also car shops, electric light building, bank building, an elevated tramway, and many other buildings.

Col. J. T. Tucker, of Clay City, has an elegant storeroom here with rooms above, from which he realizes a handsome rental. He is also building two other storerooms with an opera house above and has had a half-dozen applications for the building, when completed.

Thos. Adams has just completed the Riverside Hotel, a four-story building containing 88 rooms.

The city will soon be lighted by electricity, and waterworks will be in operation in a short time.

There is a brickyard here with a capacity of 52,500 bricks per day.

Clay City furnishes employment to 1,000 mechanics, and the company's monthly payroll exceeds $80,000. The company has a large store here. We saw a carload of Kerr's flour unloading for this store.

Capt. J. B. Blackburn and his excellent lady preside over the Clay City Hotel, a first-class house. Many courtesies were extended by Tom Lane, formerly of Winchester. Tom superintends the company's painting and is also deputy sheriff and is very proficient in both positions. He receives a good salary and richly deserves it.

Mechanics of all kinds are in great demand and good wages are paid steady, competent workmen.

The great needs of Clay City are more houses for mechanics to live in, more sidewalks, a church, and a public school. All of these will, no doubt, be added in the near future.

Lots in the business part of the city are held at from $25 to $40 per front foot.

The gentlemen who compose the company are wide-awake businessmen, are investing their money largely in Clay City, and we predict for it a bright future. We were there three days and had business transactions with quite a number of people and found them kind, courteous, and obliging.

May the future of Clay City be even more prosperous than its past.