© Jerry F. Couch
AT THE INCEPTION of Southwest Virginia’s “twin cities” of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the community of Gray Hill had not yet come into being. It was, however, a part of the grand scheme of things that never quite materialized.
As conceived around 1890, Minneapolis, Virginia and St. Paul, Virginia would have been served by separate railroad depots, each bringing travelers as well as potential residents and businesses into the two towns. The N & W depot was actually built on the St. Paul (Wise County) side of the Clinch River. The depot that would have served the Charleston Cincinnati & Chicago Railway was to have been constructed approximately where Bob and Mary Salyers’ home stands today in South St. Paul (Russell County). And…if everything else had transpired as planned, a hotel would have been built approximately on the site of Tom and Sherry Allen’s home in South St. Paul.
From the hotel and depot in South St. Paul, a trolley line would have crossed a bridge over the Clinch River to St. Paul where it would join present-day Third Avenue. From there, it would have carried passengers to a “pleasure ground” on Gray Hill, including a golf course and other unspecified attractions. For those seeking more immediate pleasures, a few scattered saloons along Russell Street awaited.
ENTER THE PANIC OF 1893. All these fine plans and dreams disappeared like smoke up a chimney. However, the golf course did eventually materialize on Gray Hill, as did an area for trap shooting.
In addition, a two-story clapboard farmhouse was built on the eastern side of Third Avenue on Gray Hill at some point. Because I have never conducted a reverse title search of this property, I cannot provide a definite construction date – and prefer not to speculate.
Members of the McReynolds family on their Gray Hill porch, 1946.
Above and below, early 1960’s photos of the Emmett Bailey family at the former McReynolds home after it was renovated.
EVERY HOUSE IN ST. PAUL HAS A STORY TO TELL.