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MISCELLANEOUS SCENES FROM McDOWELL COUNTY


August 1944 image courtesy VT ImageBase, housed and operated by Digital Library and Archives, University Libraries; scanning by Digital Imaging, Learning Technologies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

These men in Eastern Coal Sales's coal mine at Premier, WV are bringing a trip of loaded cars to the headhouse or tipple.


Feb. 1991 State Historic Preservation Office image

This tipple at Premier belonged to Royalty Smokeless Coal Co.


Nov. 1999 image by author

I know this is a terrible picture of the Premier tipple, but as far as I know it is the only color photo of it that exists. Less than a year later it was demolished.


1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives

This lady is packing her husband's dinner bucket before he goes to his shift at the mine. Photo taken at Pando Coal Company's Mohegan coal camp. Not long after this photo was taken, Pando closed the Mohegan mine. An earlier (1924-1931) operator of the Mohegan mine was Monarch Smokeless Coal Co.


April 2006 image by author

Ruins of the Peerless Coal and Coke Company store in Vivian, WV. Peerless mined coal here off and on from 1898 until the 1950's. But there was another company operating simultaneously at Vivian: Bottom Creek Coal & Coke Co. Bottom Creek's mine was open from 1898 until 1926.


April 2006 image

A closer view of the company store in Vivian. Its a shame that some people chose to damage the structure instead of preserving it as a community center - a lost opporunity to create a source of pride and heritage for the community.


Nov. 2001 image by author

Coal camp of Coalwood, domain of the Carter Coal Co. and, later, Olga Coal Co.. The No. 2 mine was a drift into the Sewell seam, as was the Nora mine, and the No. 1 was a shaft down into Pocahontas No. 4. For more Coalwood click here.


Jan. 2017 image by author

The coal town of Six, WV is down the road from Coalwood. This was another Carter Coal Co. mine and camp.


Image courtesy of Val

Val contributes this 1915 photo and writes, "Must have been a Sunday, too dressed up too work, shoes shined. Elbert E. Newman 23 on left. His brother AJ Newman 33 on the right. Boy in middle Rupert Burton Davis 14, Elbert's brother-in-law all from Carroll Co. VA. Elbert's brother Samuel's body was found on a burning slag pit in 1905 at 'Six' in Carreta, WV. The mines were part of the young men of VA's early days, and for some not their life long profession. These 3 all came from Virginia farming families. All returned to Virginia. Elbert went on to be a carpenter/building contractor, Rupert a wagon builder, and AJ a train engineer." Val credits the photo to Elbert Newman's daughter, Thelma Ardythe Newman.


Nov. 1999 image by author

Last vestiges of Yukon Pocahontas Coal Company's coal camp at Yukon, WV.


Nov. 2000 image by author

Venilated tunnel near Elkhorn, WV is appropriately named the Elkhorn Tunnel. It is over 7000 feet long, and replaced an earlier Elkhorn Tunnel from an earlier alignment of the N&W Railway. Built in 1949-50 by the Sturm & Dillard Construction Company from Ohio, the tunnel still sports the ventilation fans for steam trains, which was turned off for the last time in 1961.


Nov. 1999 image by author

Dilapidated tipple as viewed from across Dry Fork


Oct. 2005 image by author

A closer view of the same tipple shows it's wood framed construction.


Oct. 2005 image by author

Detail of a collapsing bin on the tipple along Dry Fork. Despite efforts of the Coal Heritage Authority to save it, the structure has been razed.


May 2003 image courtesy of John Sadowski

An old McNally washer and other equipment in the same tipple.


April 2006 image by author

This little coal town on the outskirts of Anawalt was known as O'Toole, and also Lila. Some of the people living in these houses might have also worked in Southern Pocahontas Coal Company's Laura Jean Mine.


Mar. 2017 image by author

A sturdy old store building in Anawalt.


Nov. 2000 image by author

Downtown Northfork, where companies such as Fortune Hunter Coal Co. and Elk Ridge Coal Co. have mined. Northfork is not a coal camp, but rather a commercial center for the surrounding coal towns. Howver, there were coal company houses at the edges of town.


Feb. 2017 image by author

Looking at Northfork today, it boggles the mind that there was once a Cadillac dealership there.


1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives

Downtown Northfork in its heyday. Note the overhead structure suspending wires for electric trains; the streamliner coming down the track; and the railroad right up to the stores' front doors.


Image courtesy of the West Virginia State Archives

Ancient post card of a tipple at Northfork, WV. This was the Elkridge mine, and a few remants of the Elkridge coal camp still exist between Northfork and Algoma.


Mar. 2022 image by author

Remains of Elk Ridge beehive coke ovens in a back yard on the edge of Northfork. Elk Ridge Coal & Coke operated these ovens from 1894 until 1919.


April 2014 image by author

Large management level houses built by Arlington Coal & Coke Co. near McDowell, WV.


April 2014 image by author

A little country church in McDowell. This community was not only in McDowell County, but was also named McDowell.


Nov. 2000 image by author

The African-American Soldiers Memorial in Kimball has been restored since this picture was taken of it.


Mar. 2004 image by author

When I saw the Greek lettering on the sign of this store in Kimball, I had to go in it. I thought it was interesting to find a Greek-American lady and her daughter running the store and deli, and actually selling a few greek foods. I thought, "How amazing it is to still find a bit of the immigrant culture in McDowell County after all these years." McDowell County was teeming with immigrants from Greece, Poland, Russia, Italy, and Hungary in the 1910's and 20's. (Mar. 2004 image by author)

Update - While passing through Kimball in 2017 I stopped again at Ya'sou Restaurant. I had a delicious gyro and Greek salad. If I lived in Kimball I would eat there once a week.


Feb. 2017 image by author

Classes at this old school in Eckman, W.Va. are no longer in session.


Image contributed by Buddy French

Coke ovens in blast at Eckman during the 1920s. These were some of the last coke ovens to be burning in McDowell County. They went cold in 1928.


Google Street View image

A few of the remaining coal company-built homes in Twin Branch, WV. Many people have seen the photo of boarded up houses at Twin Branch from when Henry Ford operated the Twin Branch mines. Rather than let his coal company, Fordson Coal Company, let the UMWA union in, he closed the mine and boarded up the company houses. (Henry Ford also owned mines in Nuttallburg, WV and Stone, KY) Later the Twin Branch mines were operated by Bigelow and Brooks Collieries Company.


2001 image by others

Coal mining in McDowell County continues into the 21st Century, although at a reduced scale. Here's a shot of the train loading at the Virginia Crews mine.


Apr. 2006 image by author

Downtown Leckie, WV, where Col. Leckie's West Virginia Pocahontas Coal Co. operated the mine.


Feb. 2005 image by author

Red brick company-built houses in Kingston-Pocahontas Coal Company's Hemphill coal camp. This is one of the few coal camps I have found in Southern West Virginia that has brick company houses.


Nov. 1999 image by author

The preparation plant at Beartown, WV was built by Island Creek Coal Company in 1951. It has been demolished since this picture was taken.


Feb. 2018 image by author

There are still these structures remaining from the Beartown prep plant, though.


Apr. 2006 image by author

An old tipple, probably dating from the 1940s or 1950s, is between Pageton and Gary. It was probably built by Nassau Coal Co., which opened a nearby mine in 1948 and operated it until 1966.


Sept. 1996 WV SHPO image

Old underground coal car sitting around on the hill above the Nassau tipple.


1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives

No one was mowing the lawns around these coal company houses at Exeter in the 40's. Perhaps the mine was closed by then, the company had stopped maintaining the town, and the woman on the porch and boy in the road were just hanging on.


April 2014 image by author

Rolfe, WV coal camp.


Image by Bob Bellamy

A few remaining coal company homes at English, W.Va.


Image courtesy of Alan "Cathead" Johnston

Cucumber, W.Va.


Image courtesy of Alan "Cathead" Johnston

Former offices of the Pulaski Iron Co. at Eckman, W.Va. Pulaski Iron mined coal in McDowell County from 1897 to 1945.


Jan. 2017 image by author

Amonate prep plant that cleaned the coal for Consolidation Coal Company's Mine No. 31.


Jan. 2017 image by author

Another view of the Amonate coal processing complex. The Amonate coal camp is just over the state line in Virginia.


Feb. 2018 image by author

Jed, W.Va. is between Welch and Gary. Jed Coal & Coke Co. started the coal mine in 1906-07. On March 26, 1912 an explosion in the Jed mine killed 83 workers.


2002 image by David Grubb

Tipple ruins at Havaco, W.Va.


Nov. 2018 image by author

Davy, West virginia was once an important place.

"The landscape record of mining infrastructure is expressed subtly by numerous relict features. Sealed mine entrances, like the entry opened at Deerfield in 1945, make a tacit statement from the past. At Maybeury, only the concrete piers of the railroad trestle remain, standing as stark monuments to a past era of economic activity. Across the region, stoneworks of foundations and retaining walls crafted by immigrant Italian masons exist as ubiquitous markers indentifying abandoned mine entries and tramways. Sue Newton, a Keystone resident, observed that today people look unkindly on McDowell County and its hard times and forget that for a long time it brought a lot of money and jobs to West Virginia. It also is easy to forget the area's lengthy contribution to national industrial expansion." From "A Southern West Virginia Mining Community Revisited" by Tyrel G. Moore. (Southeastern Geographer, 1998)


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