How Did Sagertown Get Its Name?

© Jerry F. Couch


OVER THE YEARS various people have asked me how the long-gone Sagertown section of St. Paul got its name. To answer that question, we need to travel back in time to 1891. That was the year the Clinch River Lumber Company was chartered to do business in Virginia.

In 1892, the company (headquartered in Portland, Maine) established a sawmill at the western end of St. Paul adjacent to the Clinch River and the N & W Railway. “Sager” is an old German word for “a person who saws wood; a sawyer.” The sawmill in St. Paul was a fairly large operation for its time and place, and the company provided houses adjacent to the plant for its employees. Thus, Sagertown was born.

Though the name stuck, the Sagertown lumber camp itself was short-lived. The economic impact of the Panic of 1893 put the Clinch River Lumber Company out of business. In 1895, the company’s assets, including the worker’s houses, were sold at auction to satisfy judgement liens for unpaid debts. By the time everything was sold, salvaged, and hauled away, there probably wasn’t much more than a pile of sawdust left behind to mark the site.

In the years that followed, houses were once again built in Sagertown upon the property formerly owned by Clinch River Lumber Company. The photo below was taken in the late 1940’s when Sagertown was dotted with homes.

NEXT INSTALLMENT – More about the Clinch River Lumber Company….

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