This was another one of the United States Coal and Coke Co. mines in McDowell County that mined high quality met coal for U.S. Steel. Eventually there would be 14 such mines around the Gary, W.Va., and Ream was the No.6 coal mine and coke works. Ream is up the hollow between Gary (No. 3) and Elbert (No. 7 & 8). Ream No. 6 opened in 1904 and mined coal in the Pocahontas No. 4 seam. This mine was later known at the No. 6 West mine, and actually had a lunch counter in the underground mine! As late as 1948 over 1.5 million tons of coal were mined at Ream, yet U.S. Coal and Coke shut the mine down in the 1950s. In 1960 they opened the No. 6 East mine. At least that what the portal says, though author Schust says the 1950s. Production from this mine ceased in 1972. The beehive coke works were opened into the 1920's.

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

Vintage photo showing a portion of Ream. The large two story building was the company store, and most of the company housing was up the narrow hollow behind the store. The photographer was probably standing above the coke ovens (abandoned by then) on the road from Gary to Elbert.

Mar. 2004 image by author

The sad condition of the Ream company store at the end of its life. As of 2006 the store had been demolished. Between 1919 and 1942 there was a smaller "branch office" company store located farther up the hollow on the back side of the Ream coal camp.

Feb. 1991 WV SHPO image

Portal from U.S. Coal and Coke's No. 6 East mine into the Pocahontas No. 4 coal seam. Lettering on the portal exhorts workers to "Watch, look, be careful." The portal is dated 1960. A long-gone bath house was once located near this portal. Actually there were twin portals side by side. Probably one for men and one for coal.

June 2007 WV SHPO image courtesy of Jeff Davis

Drift mouth portal remaining from U.S. Coal and Coke's coal mine at Ream. Old USGS maps list this location as "air shaft."

June 2007 WV SHPO image

WV SHPO calls this a "head house." I'm not so sure about that. It's near the "air shaft" shown above.

Apr. 2020 image by author

A few beehive coke oven ruins remain.

Apr. 2020 image by author

A closer look at the coke oven ruins. Brush and logging slash has been carlessly thrown over them.

Apr. 2020 image by author

Looking down through the Ream coal camp. If you look carefully you can see the coke oven ruins in the distance. Many years ago Ream was a much larger community.

Apr. 2020 image by author

Large residential structures built by U.S. Coal and Coke.

Apr. 2020 image by author

The small brick structures in front of these coal company houses were called "coal houses." The coal company would deposit coal in them for the residents to use for heating and cooking.

Apr. 2020 image by author

A closer look at one of the "coal houses" shows the doors in the top where the coal was placed.

Apr. 2020 image by author

More large coal camp houses that would have overlooked the coke yard.

Apr. 2020 image by author

Further back in the hollow are these smaller coal camp houses that have been altered from their original appearance.

Apr. 2020 image by author

Foundations from a building that housed water pumps and other machinery.

Apr. 2020 image by author

A concrete culvert under the railroad dated "1917."

Apr. 2020 image by author

A cut stone wall that was the wharf that the coke workers stood on. The coke ovens themselves would have been about 10 or 12 feet back from the top of the wall. They have been removed.

Apr. 2020 image by author

Remains of a coal tipple at Ream.

Apr. 2020 image by author

A closer look at the remains. This may have been a truck dump.

Apr. 2020 image by author

As this sign at Ream shows, Westwood Mining Co. was using parts of Ream as a coal stockpiling location in the 2010s. Coal mining in this area is never truly over. Just when one thinks that it is all mined out, another company finds more coal reserves to exploit when market conditions are right.


Schust, Alex P. Billion Dollar Coalfield: West Virginias McDowell County and the Industrialization of America. Two Mule Pub., 2010.

Davis, Jeffrey B. �West Virginia Historic Property Inventory Form.� 15 June 2007.

Dobson, Stone, & Valente �West Virginia Historic Property Inventory Form.� 20 February 1991.