In 1889, Anthony Drexel, Logan Bullitt and J.P. Morgan, three prominent men from Philadelphia, PA, sent their land agent, Azel Ford, to Raleigh County, WV, to purchase approximately 50,000 acres of property in and around the Beckley area. The acquired property was later placed under the banner of Beaver Coal Corporation, the predecessor to Beaver Coal Company, Limited, and a local superintendent was employed to manage the affairs of the company. The typical superintendent, or general manager, was employed by Beaver for more than 20 years and eventually retired from the company. In its 100 plus year history, Beaver has had only six superintendents or general managers.
During the first 100 years, Beaver's primary source of income was generated through the leasing of its coal reserves to coal mining companies and the sale of its timber. Beaver has never mined or sold a single pound of coal, nor has it cut any timber from its property. Timbering and mining activities on Beaver's property has always been carried out through agreements with separate companies.
As time passed, Beaver began to lease portions of its surface property. Starting with farming or individual purposes, the company eventually expanded its leasing for commercial purposes. Income from surface leasing was not considered vital to the financial status of Beaver for the first 100 years and little effort was made to maximize it.
Today, Beaver is a limited partnership with its general partner being Beaver Management Corporation. Beaver Management Corporation consists of six directors who meet monthly to review the company's status, offer advice and approve or disapprove recommendations made by the general manager. Three of the current directors are descendants of the three original founders of the company. The directors' expertise and experience cover a broad range of businesses: One is a former banker, one is an attorney, one is an investment banker, one is a professional engineer and former general manager of Beaver, and one is a CEO and major stockholder of a national motel chain.
With the employment of the sixth general manager in Beaver's company history in 1992, the long-term income generation strategy of Beaver was revised and supplemented. While coal, natural gas and timber would continue to play a major role in the income generated from Beaver's property, a decision was made to invest time and money in the development of Beaver's surface property as it related to commercial development and increased residential development. Since then, Beaver's conservative Board of Directors has carefully, but positively, increased the income from the surface development of its property. A lack of infrastructure on Beaver's property was initially considered a major obstacle to property development, but Beaver has overcome this obstacle and accelerated the development of its surface property into an income generator. In addition, Beaver has also managed to maximize income generated from timber, coal and natural gas resulting in a nearly six-fold increase in Beaver's annual income. By 2005, there were approximately 700 families and 90 businesses leasing property from Beaver.
Beaver realizes that coal and natural gas are depleting resources. Beaver has taken steps to maximize the income from these resources and has projected that income from these resources will continue to increase over the next four to five years. Following the increase, income from coal and natural gas will remain level for five to 10 years and then begin a slow decline. Beaver conducts a sustained yield timber management program on its property, which provides a constant regeneration of its timberlands and thereby creates a long-term, stable and sustainable income source.
Recently, Beaver purchased or developed ownership interests in separate companies that create income generation through residential development, mini-storage rentals, tourist property rentals and other commercial ventures.
Beaver has been a shining example of good corporate citizenship. In 2004, the Beckley/Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce selected Beaver as the recipient of its annual community service award. Other notable contributions from Beaver to the community are detailed on the Community Involvement page.