Gas Drilling Boom Digs Up Inn’s Past

SISTERSVILLE – When Charles Winslow relocated from the town of Marcellus, N.Y. to Sistersville last year, he didn’t realize just how widespread the term “Marcellus” was in West Virginia.

Shortly after he purchased the then-closed and deteriorating Wells Inn in Sistersville in June, Winslow realized he was right in the middle of the Marcellus Shale natural gas rush. The gas containing rock formation gets its name from the New York town.

“This inn is going back to its original business,” said Winslow in reference to the widespread oil and gas rush in the Sistersville area in the late 1800s and early 1900s. “A lot of our clientele are groups associated with gas and oil.”

In fact, Winslow said the demand for hotel rooms in Wetzel and Tyler counties is so strong that he began getting requests to open the inn before he was actually ready to do so.

“And these are not just field workers. We get attorneys, title searchers, you name it,” he said.

“We had people come in and tell us they were tired of sleeping in their trucks, asking us to open. So we went ahead and opened and just proceeded with our renovation plans,” Winslow continued.

As for the Marcellus Shale rush and the prospects for the local area, Winslow believes the business will drive a “resurgence in Sistersville.”

“It is neat to see all of this activity ramping up,” he said. “There is so much optimism, so much business and so much prosperity coming,” Winslow continued. “You now have contractors looking to move their operations here. This is a long-term deal for a lot of these people.”

While Winslow admits there is still more work to do in remodeling the 34-room facility, he said patchwork to fix at least 260 leaks is now complete.

“We spent the first four months tearing it apart, and will probably spend the rest of our lives putting it back together,” he said of the hotel that originally opened in 1894.

“In a bad economy, it is nice to be in an area like this where there is so much hope,” Winslow added.

As for the assets provided by the small-town atmosphere of Sistersville, Winslow said the high-quality of life found throughout the area is important.

“People want to be in an area where they feel safe, where they can trust their neighbors,” he said. “It is great to see how people here enjoy each other’s company.”

Sistersville City Clerk Diana Mace said the community is grateful to have an influx of people like Winslow.

“He moved here all the way from upstate New York,” she said. “It is nice to see someone so glad to be a part of our community.”