KIMBERVILLE is a suburb in the US town of Louisville which is named after the Kimber family who emigrated in the 1880s from Trimdon Colliery to build a new life in the Colorado coalfield (Memories 376).

Another County Durham coal village can go one better: there is an Evenwood in West Virginia which is named after Evenwood, near West Auckland.

The story has been uncovered by the Evenwood, Ramshaw & District History Society which is featuring it in its exhibition this weekend.

In 1849, Thomas Raine and his wife Ruth (nee Willan), who both came from Evenwood in County Durham, emigrated to Ohio and settled in a newly founded ironmaking town.

Their sons, Thomas and John, become lumbermen, and in 1904 founded their own company in the Dry Fork District of Randolph County in West Virginia. They needed somewhere for their workers to live and so built Evenwood, named after the birthplace of their mother.

Thomas and John were short-lived in Evenwood because in 1906 they purchased one of the largest stands of virgin hardwood in the whole of the US, which was about 150 miles away in Greenbrier County.

To get to their trees, they had to build a 20-mile railway – sorry,

railroad – and then they needed a new settlement to house their

workers. They called this new settlement Rainelle, after their own surname.

The Raine brothers’ company, the Meadow River Lumber Company, soon employed 500 men at Rainelle and had the largest hardwood sawmill in the world. They cut down 3,000 acres of virgin timber a year and turned it into 31m board feet a year (a board foot is an American timber measurement: a board foot is 1ft long by 1ft wide and one inch thick).

Although their Evenwood enterprise only lasted until 1922, the Meadow River lumber mill at Rainelle, which operated until 1975, must have made these lads with County Durham roots pretty wealthy.

Today, Evenwood in West Virginia is just a dot of a place and Rainelle, which was badly hit by floods ten years ago, has a population of about 1,500.

The connection between Evenwood WA and Evenwood Co Dur is told, along with lots of other local stories, in the exhibition at Evenwood Parish Hall today, from 11am to 3pm, and tomorrow, from 2pm to 4pm. Admission is free, though donations are gratefully received. Refreshments will be available.

THE observant will have noticed that Evenwood in West Virginia is in Randolph County and that in Evenwood, County Durham, there was the Randolph Colliery. This is just coincidence. Randolph in West Virginia was named after Edmund Jennings Randolph, a politician, in 1787, whereas the Randolph Colliery was sunk in 1893 and named after the chairman of its parent company, William Randolph Innes Hopkins.