John B. Laing
John B. Laing was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, in 1876. He married Susanna Kay, and settled in West Virginia. He was enrolled in Hampden Sidney, but due to illnesses, did not complete college. Mr. Laing was a coal operator, and owned a coal mine in Beckley, West Virginia, in Raleigh County, and organized the Royal Coal and Coke Company in 1891. Later he organized the Sun Coal and Coke Company, the first company to operate in the New River coal field. Mr. Laing retired from the coal mining business in 1904, at which point he was president of the Laing Mining Company, the McKinley Land Company, the Craig-Giles Iron Company, and the Mountain Lake Company. After his retirement Mr. Laing moved to Lewisburg and became a trustee of the Lewisburg Seminary, where he sent his daughters for education, and later became a trustee of Hampden-Sidney College, where two of his sons had attended.
Mr. Laing owned roughly 80,000 acres of land on Salt Pond Mountain and leased the land to Mountain Lake in 1933 for the cost of a dollar every 50 years. White Pine Lodge, a home farther down the mountain from MLBS, was Mr. Laing’s summer home and has stayed in the family. The Dorseys and Pursers are his descendants, and still visit Mountain Lake Biological Station.