Friday, March 31, 2006

A Town With Broad Shoulders

The only photo I could find of Orlando horse teams is this very poor one.
I imagine these are preparing to go out into the gas and oil fields.
In its heyday Orlando was a worker's town, probably more than a traveler's town, with gas and oil well drilling, coal mining, and still some lumber harvesting. The Coke and Coal Railroad, owned by Senator Davis, developed a hickory mill in Orlando in 1905 as soon as the rails were there to move out the goods. But that was just the beginning. "Senator Davis. . . knew of the untapped coal, gas and oil resources within those hills. His company . . . owned carefully selected coal lands and rights along the route of the rail in four counties drained by the Monongehela."1
There would also have been the internal traffic of moving products to and from the trains, from warehouse to business, mail delivery and soforth. And all that moving involved horse power. Orlando had two feed stores, two blacksmith shops and a veteranarian.
In 1977, Orlando resident Martin Sweeney remembered the horses through Orlando. “The drillers were there and 75 to 100 horse teams pulled out in the morning when they were developing the oil and gas wells in Lewis, Braxton and Gilmer. They got eight dollars a day for their work.”2

1. The Weston Democrat Wed, Nov 2, 1977. Orlando: Cinderella City writen by Mary Mazza.
2. ibid.

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