Apr. 2007 image by author

Railroad trestle built by the Virginian Railway over Winding Gulf Creek between Winding Gulf and Hotcoal. This trestle was probably built in the early 1920s to replace a wooden one. The dirt road beneath is actually the former railbed of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Winding Gulf Subdivsion.

Apr. 2007 image by author

Another ex-Virginian trestle, this one with a tunnel at the end of it. This section of Winding Gulf Creek hollow is called "The Loop," and it was a system of tunnels and trestles as the Virginian climbed out of the Winding Gulf Creek watershed and the C&O descended down into it.

Oct. 1998 image by author

Ruins of the Gulf Bank, closed in 1914 (when it moved to Beckley and became the Beckley National Bank), at the coal town of Hotcoal, WV (originally named Patterson). The historic ruin was removed during abandoned mine reclamation in the area. Hotcoal mine and camp, built in 1911, were owned by W.P. Tams's Gulf Smokeless Coal Co. The operation played out in 1939, and the town was deserted. Today Hotcoal is only accessable by foot, ATV, or sturdy 4x4 vehicle.

Oct. 2007 image by author

Although no complete structures remain in Hotcoal, foundations like this one can still be found under the brush.

Earl Palmer image courtesy of Virginia Tech Imagebase

Big Stick, WV was a mining community owned by the Pemberton Coal and Coke Co. In 1942 Lillybrook Coal Co. took over operations. There were schools for white and black kids, and a company store. The mines closed in 1951, and the community was gradually abandoned throughout the 1950s, with the last familiy moving out in 1960. Around this time photographer Earl Palmer took this picture of the few company houses remaining in the abandoned coal camp of Big Stick.

Jan. 2002 image by author

Today these tipple foundations are some of the only evidence of the mining camp named Big Stick.

Jan. 2002 image by author

Headhouse foundations at Woodbay. This was a mining camp built by the Bailey-Wood Coal Co. in 1911, and was later a concern of the C.H. Mead Coal Co. The mine closed in the 1940s and the town was abandoned and torn down. Today Woodbay has one resident living in a single wide mobile home next to the refuse pile.

Nov. 1997 image by author

The Norfolk-Southern track looking toward Woodbay. Red dot in the center is a light on a signal tower that is no longer there. This hazy photo was taken with a very cheap camera, but I like the surreal, dreamlike quality.

1957 image by Gene Huddleston courtesy of the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society

1957 Photo of coal company houses described as being along Winding Gulf Creek. The location wasn't recorded, but it was probably Big Stick, McAlpin, or Stotesbury. Note the burning slate dump at top.

Nov. 1997 image by author

Ury, WV a.k.a. "Cooktown." This wasn't a coal camp so much as a town with a few stores for the miners and their families.

Apr. 2007 image by author

Photo of Ury showing remains of the town on the left, Route 16 in the center, and the old C&O Railroad bed on the right.

Dec. 1997 image by author

When I was waiting for this N-S coal train to pass at the foot of Tams Mountain in December 1997, it never occured to me that this would be the last coal train I would ever see in the Winding Gulf Creek valley. But it was, and the day is coming when the last coal train will take the last load of smokeless coal out from the Winding Gulf Coalfield.