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Bakerton to mark 120 years

July 22, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

BAKERTON, W.VA. -- More than 100 years ago, William Baker started mining limestone from a quarry he opened in Jefferson County.

The quarry ended its operation in the mid- to late 1950s when its limestone vein, considered one of excellent quality, ran out.

The town of Bakerton, named for the quarry man, will celebrate its 120th anniversary Saturday with a daylong schedule of music, food, demonstrations, exhibitions and activities for children.

The anniversary celebration comes about through the effort of Wanda Mason-Ballenger. She and her husband, Jerry, have owned The Bakerton Market for the past 15 years.

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"This will be an opportunity to bring all of us together," Mason-Ballenger said. "Some former residents are coming back to join us. The last time we celebrated was 20 years ago for the 100th anniversary."

Town resident Jim Newton made a video tape of that celebration, Mason-Ballenger said.

"He made a copy and we're going to show it on Saturday. We're going to do a video this time, too," she said.

Mason-Ballenger, the town's postmistress, doesn't know Bakerton's population other than to say she puts mail into 80 mailboxes.

Many Bakerton residents are retired, including William L. Snyder, 96, who remembers working in the quarry as a pump tender.

"I kept the water out," he said.

Snyder, who was working at the quarry when it closed, remembers when it employed more than 300 people.

Snyder also remembers "when we used to load rock by hand. Then, the machines came in and it was easier."

He also remembers when Carter Street, the town's main street, was only a railroad track that led to the quarry.

"We could walk from here to Harpers Ferry on it," he said.

Leah Seibert, 30, grew up in the area and returned to buy a house in Bakerton. She said she chose Bakerton "because there is no better place to raise a family. This is a wonderful community. The people are supportive, they're good role models and good parents."

There are no organized activities for children in Bakerton, Mason-Ballenger said. They go outside and create their own fun, she said.

The original Bakerton Store was destroyed by fire nearly four years ago. It has been rebuilt by the Ballengers into a modern convenience store.

Charles Shobe, 69, a former Bakerton resident, is a retired Frederick County, Md., public school teacher and well-known area artist. He bought land near the old quarry in 1976 and converted a concrete water tower into a home in which he lived until he moved to Frederick County in 1994. His son, Ted Shobe, now lives in the Bakerton home.

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