News & Reviews News Wire Dr. Roy Clarkson, author of books on West Virginia lumber railroads, dies at 95

Dr. Roy Clarkson, author of books on West Virginia lumber railroads, dies at 95

By Alan Byer | September 20, 2022

Books by botanist, biologist reflected interest in timber industry and its railroads

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Older man with glasses
Dr. Roy B. Clarkson (Tammy Shoemaker)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dr. Roy B. Clarkson, a well-known botanist and forest biologist at West Virginia University and author of two books dealing with West Virginia lumber railroads, died Sept. 12, 2022. He was 95.

Clarkson, originally from Cass, W.Va., published many books, articles, and papers during his career in science, but is known in the railroading community for “Tumult on the Mountains, Lumbering in West Virginia – 1770-1920” and “On Beyond Leatherbark: The Cass Saga.”

“Tumult on the Mountains” was published in 1964. The profusely illustrated book chronicled the rise and fall of the logging and lumbering operations that cut and processed West Virginia’s timber. Clarkson was especially interested in the logging railroads, and the geared steam locomotives that made them possible, and devoted many pages to early, never-before-seen photographs of trains, motive power, and railroaders at work. The book is in its 12th printing and is still available from the company that first published it, McClain Printing Co., P.O .Box 403, Parsons, WV 26287.

Clarkson was working on “On Beyond Leatherbark: The Cass Saga” when his wife, Georgia Ruth Clarkson, passed away in July 1985. He set aside the manuscript and didn’t plan to continue working on it, but eventually, he was approached by Cass historian and author Philip Bagdon, who encouraged him to complete the book and offered boxes of notes and photographs Bagdon had compiled during his own research. With Bagdon’s encouragement and practical assistance, Dr. Clarkson completed the book, and it was published in 1990 by McClain Printing. The book is in its third printing and is also still available

Clarkson was preceded in death by his wife and all 10 of his siblings. He is survived by two daughters and five grandchildren.

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