Monday, May 21, 2001
Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall
of Fame Announces Class of 2001
C. A. Smith
One of the Upper Ohio Valley’s most successful adn colorful sons, Charles A. “C.A.” Smith was
born April 14, 1867, in Wellsville, the youngest of eight children of Alexander and Margaret
At an early age, he went to live with the Alex Mahon family of the Arroyo area of nearby West
Virginia. When about 17, he became interested in teh oil an dgas business while working as a
water boy for a crew laying a gas pipeline in the district.
Smith seemed to have been blessed with somthing of a Midas’ touch at the launch of a colorful
and varied career that spanned more than a half century, reching into many phases of growth of
the valley beginning in the 1890s.
His interest in the oil and gas business prompted him to begin drilling operations in the
McDonald, Pa., area. Constantly expanding his interests, he eventually acquired the Ohio
Valley Gas Co., whch he sold in 1898.
In 1899, Smith began the development of what is now Chester, W. Va. Smith bought farms in the
area to lay the groundwork for the community, named after an uncle, Chester Mahon.
It was during the late 1890s that he launched Rock Springs Park as an amusement center, became
one of the builders of the Chester-East Liverpool Bridge and started the East Liverpool-Rock
Springs Railway. The bridge was opened in 1898.
Linked with the growth of Chester, Smith established the South Side Water Co. abuot 1900 and
paved the streets of what is now the upper part of Chester. In 1946, he sold teh water company
to the City of Chester.
During the busy days of 1900, Smith also turned to the pottery industry. That year the Taylor,
Smith & Taylor Co., was built in Chester, with Smith, his brother W. L. Smith, and John Taylor
and sons, the original stockholders. In 1903, Smith and his broghter bought out the Taylors,
keeping the controlling interest in the pottery.
Also about 1900, Edwin M. Knowles constructed a pottery in Chester, and Smith became one of the
original stockholders. Smith also was connected with what became the American Vitrified
Products Co., which once operated in teh East End.
In 1914, smith moved further into the transportation field, becoming the owner of the
Steubenville, East Liverpool & Beaver Valley Traction Co., with headquarters in East Liverpool.
The purchase of the traction company returned ownership of the Chester Bridge to Smith’s
hands. In 1938, he sold the bridge to the state of Ohio for $2, 185,000. Smith also purchased
the light and power rights in the Steubenville-East Liverpool area. Those interests were sold
in 1917 to what became the Ohio Power Co.
Partial abandonment of the trolleys started in 1935, and in 1939, the traction company went out
of business. The Valley Motor Transit Co. began in its stead. Also that year, the Smith
concern took over the East Liverpool-Newell run. Smith served as president and general manager
of both organizations. To his death in October 1953, Smith remained active in Valley Motor
For the last 10 years of his life, Hillcrest Farms near Chester was Smith’s principal interest.
Hillcrest Farms took form in 1917. in 1919, Smith went into the Hereford cattle business and
began producing champion stock. At the time of his death, Smith’s herd numbered about 700 head
and was considered one of teh best in the United States. Hillcrest Frams produced teh grand
champion bull of the Chicago International Livestock Exposition in 1947, 1949 and 1951.
Smith’s prize bulls were frequently sold for record prices of the times.
Apple growing also played a big part in Hillcrest’s success. Of the farm’s 4,000 acres, 1,000
were devoted to apples.
Smith was married twice and had five children to his first marriage.