Mill Creek, West Virginia
Mill Creek is a community in Randolph County that was incorporated in 1903 and named from a mill operated on Mill Creek near the mouth of the Tygart Valley River. Mill Creek has a population of about 720 people and is home to the second largest high school in the county which opened in 1923.
The Tygart Valley Homestead, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, was developed by farmers, miners, and lumber workers in 1935 during the Great Depression. Ninety-nine subsistence communities were built as a part of the New Deal to provide relief to unemployed families stranded in impoverished communities across the country. Three of those communities were built in West Virginia and the Tygart Valley Homestead in Mill Creek was one of them. The Tygart Valley Homestead was established by Roosevelt’s Resettlement Administration to provide a new start to unemployed and dispirited men and women. One hundred and ninety-eight men were chosen, along with their families, to become homesteaders in the three communities built in Tygart Valley. Many of the men chosen for the homestead had previous experience working in logging camps and timber mills around the region. Along with the coal industry, the logging industry was hard hit by the Depression, and many timber towns in the Allegheny mountains, especially in Randolph and Pocahontas Counties, saw rising numbers of unemployed men and women. These made good candidates for homesteaders at Tygart Valley, which employed many men in its lumber mill.
With the coming of World War Two and the end of the Great Depression in sight, the government began to withdraw from the homestead project. By 1945, the government-sponsored Tygart Valley Association had sold off most of its cooperative buildings, including the lumber mill, trade center, weaving shop, woodworking shop, and cannery. The houses the homesteaders had been living in and making payments on were sold to them for around $3,000–a modest price when the national average home price was around $10,000. In the end, the Tygart Valley Homestead was able to repay the loans it had originally received from the government in a space of about 10 years, making it one of the successes of the Federal Subsistence Homestead Division, a part of the New Deal project.
These rural homestead settlements are still lived in as private family homes. Today, Mill Creek has a few convenient stores, restaurants, celebrations throughout the year, a well-known Christmas lights display called Whoville, fire department, and town elections.