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CRAB ORCHARD, WV



Image courtesy of Walter Caldwell

This 1935 picture shows the trolley hauling coal past the superintendent's house to the tipple.


2004 image by author

There's not much left of the Crab Orchard coal camp.


Sep. 2004 image by author

The superintendent's house is still extant, though.

There are remnants of the original Crab Orchard mine around the area, if you know where to look.


Sep. 2004 image by author

It was operated by the Gulf Mining Company, and Beckley Steel is currently located at the old mine site. These old foundations from associted coal mine buildings still exist at Beckley Steel.


Sep. 2004 image by author

This building, currently Beckley Steel's engineering building, was built during the time that Westmoreland Coal Company was operating in the area. It was originally used as a lab. Beckley Steel was also using the old machine shop/powerhouse as their paint shop until it burned down around 1999. From the mining complex in Crab Orchard the "dinky" locomotive would pull the coal cars down a haulage track, which ran behind what is now Webb's Florist, to the Piney Creek branch of the C&O Railroad, about one mile away.


Sep. 2004 image by author

This locamotive that has been on display in New River Park in Beckley for years was one that hauled mine cars from the Crab Orchard mine portal to the tipple.


Oct. 2004 image by author

"Gulf Mining Co." is carved into this stone that was originally over the Crab Orchard mine portal, but is now part of a landscaping scheme at a private residence in the greater Beckley area.


Sep. 2004 image by author

There is nothing left of the original Crab Orchard tipple. But this loadout is located on the very same site as the original tipple. Vecillio & Grogan built this during the coal boom of the 1970s when their Ranger Fuel subsidiary was stripping nearby. It was being used by Orchard Coal Company until about 2002, and now appears to be idle. I have been told my by father that the haul road that leads here follows the original dinky locamotive route of the original Crab Orchard mine.


Sep. 2004 image by author

The coal is brought to the loadout by trucks which untarp, go to the scale house, and then dump their load into this stockpile area. A dozer would then push the coal into crusher house, which can be seen in the background along with the conveyor leading to the loadout.


Sep. 2004 image by author

The dozer pushed the coal through a hopper into this Gundlach crusher, the only piece of processing equipment at this facility.


Sep. 2004 image by author

Then the conveyor would bring the crushed and sized coal down to this loadout. The rail sidings have probably been there since the days of the original Crab Orchard tipple, and they didn't appear to be used at this time.


Sep. 2004 image by author

Detail of one of the four chutes that were raised and lowered into the rail cars by a cable system.


Sep. 2004 image by author

The 2' wide operators booth at the loadout. The two long handles extending down in the upper left corner of the picture operated flop gates in the "pant leg" chutes.


Sep. 2004 image by author

Looking in the operators booth there are controls for the crusher, the feeder under the crusher, and the cables on the chutes.


Sep. 2004 image by author

The manager's office behind the loadout.


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