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POCAHONTAS, VA

The Virginia portion of the Pocahontas coalfield occurs only in Tazewell County. The field was opened in the early 1880s, and producted a great deal of some of the finest "smokeless" coal to be found in the world for around a century. The last operation that I am aware of was Consol's Amonate mine. I'm not sure, but the coal from the Amonate mine may have actually been under West Virgina.

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The namesake of this coalfield is the town of Pocahontas, named for the Indian princess. Pocahontas was developed by the Southwest Virginia Improvement Company in 1881-83. Some of these houses pictured may have been company houses. But Pocahontas wasn't simply a coal mining camp. It had a bustling business district and privately owned homes as well. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


The commercial district in Pocahontas is just a shell of what it once was. Many of the town's historic structures, such as these, are falling into ruin. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


Farther up on the hill in Pocahontas is a section of the village that has the feel of a ghost town. Many of the buildings are abandoned and ruined. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


I especially liked this. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


One structure in Pochaontas that is still in good condition is St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church. St. Elizabeth was founded in 1896 for all of the european immigrants in Pocahontas. Some of their descendents may still live in the area, since the church still hosts an annual Hugarian Cabbage Roll ("Hunky hand grenades") Dinner. It sits on the hilltop overlooking the town, and is rumored to have beautiful murals painted inside, but I didn't go inside as Mass was in session when I took this picture and I looked like a bum. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


The office building of the Pocahontas Fuel Company still stands in the middle of Pocahontas. After Consol purchased the Pocahontas Fuel Company they kept regional offices here. Pocahontas Fuel Company also maintained offices in the big Norfolk & Western building in downtown Bluefield, WV. It is unknown who the current residents are. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


This company store, the first store that the Pocahontas Fuel Company ever built (in 1883), is still in existence in Pocahontas, Virginia. Through the years the company built so many stores in Bishop, Switchback, Itmann, and others. But this was their first. According to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, when Consol took over Pocahontas Fuel in 1958 they kept this store open until about 1980. In 2006 I wrote, "The structure is in poor condition now, and if someone doesn't close off the open windows to the elements, it, like so many other interesting buildings in Pocahontas, will be lost to time and the weather." (Apr. 2006 image by author)


My predictions proved right when the store collapsed in 2007. What a waste. (Image courtesy of Debbie)


Shown here is the company store in Pocahontas when it was new. Note that the freight elevator had not been built yet. (Image courtesy of Eastern Regional Coal Archives, Bluefield, WV)


Some company houses in the coal camp section of Pocahontas with the powerhouse from the old Pocahontas No. 1 mine in the background. Behind that is a huge reclaimed slate dump. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


A closer view of the stone powerhouse at the site of the Pocahontas No. 1 mine. This was the first commerical mine opened in the Pocahontas Coalfield (VA and WV), and, since 1938, has been operating as the Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


Cap light battery charger in the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine bathhouse. (Apr. 2005 image by author)


The shower stalls are to the right of this picture of the bathhouse at the Pocahontas mine. (Apr. 2005 image by author)


This was the fanhouse for the Pocahontas No. 1 mine, but is now the entrance to the exhibition mine. (Apr. 2006 image by author)


Inside the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine. This was the first tourist coal mine in the nation. At one time people drove cars through this tourist attraction, as the Pocahontas No. 3 coal seam here is 13 feet hight. But now the tour guide just walks visitors through it. (Apr. 2005 image by author)

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