Coal company-built houses at the mining camp of Shallmar, MD. The town was named by transposing the last name of the coal company's owner, Marshall. The Shallmar mine opened in 1917. According to a local resident, there were once 90 houses in Shallmar. (July 2003 image by author)

The Wolf Den Coal Company store at Shallmar, built in 1921. The man standing in the doorway, George Brady, was a clerk in the store back in the day. (July 2003 image by author)

The home of the owner of Wolf Den Coal Company at Shallmar, MD. According to George, Wolf Den Coal Co. closed the Shallmar mine in the early 1950s, but it was later reopened by B,B,&K Coal Co. in the 1960s. It is now abandoned, and the slate dump was reclaimed around 2000. (July 2003 image by author)

Shallmar company houses as they looked in the 1980's, after the coal mine had closed. (January 1983 image by Geoffrey Henry, Maryland State Archives)

Another 1980's picture from Shallmar, this one of a particularly authentic coal camp house. (January 1983 image by Geoffrey Henry, Maryland State Archives)

These smaller company houses still existed at Shallmar when this photo was taken in the 1980's, but have likely been demolished by now. (January 1983 image by Geoffrey Henry, Maryland State Archives)

(July 2003 image by author)


Shalmar, Md. [sic] - The shadow of famine hung over this small coal mining town today. Its major industry, the Wolf Den mine, has been shut down since last March and now the food shelves are all but bare. The plight of the community, home of some 50 families, was brought to light yesterday by its school principal, J. Paul Andrick. "Without a great amount of help from the outside," he said, "these people cannot hope to survive the winter." Andrick said he learned about the situation when he looked in on the family of a girl student whom he sent home because she was faint from hunger. He found that the family "had literally lived on apples for two weeks." At another home a mother of seven told of feeding her family on bread, potatoes and beans for a similar period, then added, "Today for a change we had cabbage for supper." During the hunting season miners took up their guns and brought back four deer, sharing the game with destitute neighbors. One of the neighbors said, "I never cared much for venison, but it was the first fresh meat in this house in three months."

The owner of the miner, H.A. Marshall, said from a hospital bed in nearby Cumberland, Md., he plans to resume operations but doesn't know when. He is recovering from a minor ailment. He explained the mine was closed because orders fell off. Western Maryland coal is generally regarded as inferior to that produced in neighboring West Virginia fields [not necessarily], and often it is so difficult to mine that small Maryland operators cannot compete with prices offered by large scale companies. About 90 Shallmar miners were thrown on relief when the mine closed down, but unemployment compensation payments ran out after six months for most of them.

War veterans and fraternal organizations from nearby communities have been collecting relief supplies and the county commissioners have raised funds to provide lunches for the school children. But Andrick said, "conditions may get worse before they get better." Asked what she planned to do for Christmas, one housewife replied, "I haven't thought about Christmas. For the past several weeks I've been more worried about the next meal."