In the early 1900's, Ritter Lumber Company began operations in the Knox District area of Buchanan County. The mountains had an abundance of forests when the first settlers established their homesteads making the area rich in natural resources.
The sawmills were placed at Hurley, Paw Paw, and Blackey. The sawmills employed more than 600 men, many who boarded locally during the week for one dollar a night.
Ritter Lumber Company turned Hurley into a boom town. Hurley was the center of operations for the lumber company in this region. The lumber company employed a doctor to take care of its employees and brought many changes for the better in the lifestyle of the citizens of Hurley. Hurley was the site of the first hospital in Buchanan County.
Much of the wealth and natural beauty was destroyed in the area because of lumbering. Many of the people took advantage of the barren hills to plant crops and graze livestock. Ritter quit the operation in 1935 when the coal operators began mining in the area.
Hurley High School