The area that is now Follansbee was sparsely populated farming lands in 1900. In her book, “Father and His Town,” Wilma (Sinclair) LeVan Baker tells of her father taking B.G. Follansbee and his sons for a street car ride from Steubenville to Mingo. Mr. Follansbee stood on the (Ohio) river bank looking across at Mahan Village (Follansbee). “The backdrop of the area was breathtaking in its beauty. The rolling hills were dotted with the orchards of the Mahan family. Along the river laid the golden wheat fields, gently rippling in the breeze. At night the myriad of darting fireflies lent a Fairy Godmother glow over the entire area…..”
The Ohio River was more shallow and narrow in 1900 before major dams existed. Mingo Island could be seen near the Follansbee shore in the south part of town. Here the navigation channel twisted to avoid rock ledges and subsurface sand bars. Now dredged and marked by buoys, the stretch of river was long a hazard to steamboats. It was here that the Scioto rammed the John Lomas head-on in 1882 (See July 4, 1882 on Timeline).
The railroad passed by the Mahan property, connecting the area with Hollidays Cove to the north and Wellsburg and Wheeling in the south. The dirt wagon roads connecting the vicinity were narrow, often muddy, and frequently impassable, especially along the river banks. Two Indian mounds were located along the road through the small Mahan village. The little community consisted of scattered buildings including those of the Mahan homestead that had replaced Isaac Cox’s old log house built in 1772.
There were no bridges crossing the river for wagons or foot traffic. Two ferryboats provided transportation for horse drawn wagons carrying farmers goods to the markets and docks at Steubenville and Mingo. The middle ferry crossed the river near where the Market Street bridge is today. The lower ferry was situated just north of present day Follansbee. However, most folks simply used small boats or walked across the river during low water months.
A witness account gives us an idea about Alleghany creek in the early 1900s. Frank Gaudio recalled, as a young boy, that the Alleghany creek crossed Main Street near the present day Fire Department. It meandered along the bottom land area before gradually dumping into the river. Now covered over where the mill is located, the creek passed through apple orchards and had some deep water holes with large rocks that were excellent swimming and fishing locations.