Consolidated Orchard Company

This article, “Consolidated Orchard Company” is another that was featured in the book “Once Upon a Time in Paw Paw” written by Janice B. Herrell with information Provided by: Betty (Miller) Dobler, Lucy Gordon, Harvey Weller, Barbara Norton, WV Horticulture Society and Ownby Auction and Realty Co.

Consolidated Orchard Company

H. W. (Harry) Miller, Sr., a horticulturist from Berkeley County, settled in the area just east of Paw Paw and founded his orchard in 1898. The first orchard began on cleared virgin timberland and consisted of 2,000 acres of peach trees.

In 1905, Mr. Miller, Sr., constructed a beautiful home on the orchard, on a scenic spot overlooking the valley. For that era, the dwelling was far before its time. It was equipped with running water, central heat and electricity (which was provided by a generator). The home, which still stands is localy referred to as, “The Big House”.

Incorporated in 1912, Consolidated Orchard Company was subsequently taken over by H. W. (Henry) Miller, Jr., who expanded and developed the business into one of the largest and most successful operations in the country.

The first apple packing facility was buit in 1920 in Paw Paw near the, then existing, rairoad. It was later rebuilt (due to a fire) and modernized, by 1940 there was no equal to the modern, efficient packing operation.

Under Henry Miller’s excellent, farsighted direction, the “Mountaineer” Brand, which was patented in 1924, became nationally known. By virtue of exportation, the Brand attained international prominence. It was respected far and wide as the “apple with character” due to the consistant quality of the fruit. For more than 60 years, “Mountaineer” Brand was a symbol of highest quality in the marketplace.

During his distinguished career, Henry Miller, Jr., served as: President and Chairman of the Board of the International Apple Association; Board of Directors of United Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Association; President of the National Apple Institute: Board of Directors of American Farm Bureau. His valuable contributions to the Apple Industry were evidenced by many awards which he received, such as: “Man of the Year”, Progressive Farmer Magazine; “Packers, Apple Man of the Year”; Distinquished Service Award from West Virginia Farm Bureau and National Apple Institute.

September 1976 the company was purchased by a California Limited Partnership. After the sale, a new Controlled Atmosphere Storage was erected, which made it possible for a longer packing season. The business continued as a major source of employment for the area with orchards in Morgan and Hampshire Counties in West Virginia and Allegany County in Maryland. It consisted of over 3,000 acres and harvested over a haf million bushels of fruit annually.

In November 1985, a major flooding of the Potomac River devastated the Town of Paw Paw. The office, packing plant and storage (which were filled with the recently harvested crop) were inundated with flood waters. The loss, estimated at four million dollars, deemed it impossible to rebuild. October 1986 brought Consolidated Orchard Company to a close as all properties were sold at public auction.

The Miller family and Consoidated Orchard Company played a vital role in the history of Paw Paw.

H. W. Miller, Sr. – died October 1960
H. W. Miller, Jr. – died May 1977

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