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Where Did Pinch And Quick Get Their Names?

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Eric Douglas
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WVPB
The town of Pinch, in northern Kanawha County, is one of a trio of communities with unusual names along the Elk River.

There are two communities in northern Kanawha County that, when said together like they often are, sound more like something your grandmother used to do when you were being naughty. 

The towns Pinch and Quick are nestled along the banks of the Elk River. They're only about 13 miles away from Charleston, but they have their own identity, even if the origin of the names isn’t as interesting as it sounds like it should be.

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Credit My West Virginia Home
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My West Virginia Home
The original Big Chimney.

Pinch is named for the Pinch Creek and Quick is named for the Quick family, according to Ellie Teaford, the of the Elk Valley Branch Library. Teaford said the Pinch name came about during a particularly difficult time in the early settler’s history.

“There was a lack of food in the area for the pioneers. So they were literally feeling a pinch in their gut and named the creek after it,” she said. It was originally Pinch Gut Creek.

Without that historical context, it can be kind of funny that two towns named Pinch and Quick are right next to each other. It's actually led to a lot of jokes over the years. For Kaitlin Jordan, who attended Pinch Elementary School, just saying the school name was a hazard. 

“All I know is that I would get pinched if I said it in elementary school,” she said. “The kids would say ‘Hey, what's the name of our elementary school? I can't remember,” and then when you said it, you would get pinched.”

A third community in the area has an unusual name, but for a completely different reason. Big Chimney is named for a big chimney that used to be part of a salt production facility along the Elk River.

While it may sound utilitarian, the chimney itself was a local landmark. It even inspired a poem. The verse was discovered on the back of an old photo.

The Big Chimney

Marred and stained by the rush of time

It stood by the riverside

A landmark to all nigh sublime

Who lived round the countryside

Twas the chapel slaves that molded each block

From the plantation just over the way

And quickly, with chisel, fashioned each rock

In the base and coping gray.

The corner was torn by the lightning’s flash

That the vines strove ever hide

And down the face a ragged gash

The years rove wider and wider

Sixty feet it lifted its towering crest

From foundation laid in lime and clay,

A silent sentinel barring expressed 100 years today.

Evan Dockeridge is gone, and plans are forgotten

And the salt making industry is dead

For the ravages of war invaded the spot

And left defeat in thread.

The poem is attributed to William W. Wertz, the mayor of Charleston from 1923 to 1931. A news article from the Charleston Daily Mail in 1928 details the day the chimney collapsed, brought down by high winds.


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