Ansted, West Virginia is not a pure coal company town. It is an incorporated private town with a private residential section, a commercial section, and a coal camp section. The community is named for David Ansted, a coal geologist from England who was a pioneer industrial explorer in the area. Mining at Ansted began early - in the 1870s - by the Hawks Nest Coal Company. At some point banks of coke ovens were built. According to an 1887 issue of The Coal Trade Journal, the coke ovens were "Coppee or Belgian ovens," not beehive ovens.

Another factoid is that the labor strife that would characterize the Southern West Virginia coal industry for a century may have began at Ansted in 1880 when unionized miners from a neighboring mine attempted to blockade the Hawks Nest/Ansted mines.

A later operator of the mines at Ansted was the Gauley Mountain Coal Company, and, later, the Mill Creek Colliery Company, not to be confused with Mill Creek Coal & Coke that was in Mercer County. In 1913 the Mill Creek coal mines employed 75 men, used mules for haulage, and advertised an annual capacity of 50,000 tons. By 1921 they had upgraded to using electric locomotives to supplement their mule haulage, and were now using "short wall" mining machines and "gravity screens" in the tipple. However, annual tonnage was still 50,000 tons of egg, lump, and R-O-M coal. Mill Creek Colliery closed their mine in 1950. Gauley Mountain Coal's various mines in the area operated from 1897 until 1959.

Signal Knob Coal Co. opened their mines at Ansted in 1910. Their mines closed in the depths of the Great Depression, but reopened from 1942 until 1952.


This portal from the Mill Creek Colliery mine, which appears to have been a mine fan housing, is still in existence. (Image courtesy of Mick Vest)

This powder house, where dynamite and blasting poweder was stored, was part of the Mill Creek Colliery mine. (January 2002 WV SHPO image)

A few of the coal company houses at Ansted. (Dec. 2013 image by author)

A loaded coal car sits along Route 60 in Ansted, with the former mansion of William Page in the background. (Dec. 2013 image by author)

A closer view of the large house that William Page lived in while he was manager of Gauley Mountain Coal Company. The house was built in 1890. (Dec. 2013 image by author)

This wooden railroad trestle once carried coal cars down the mountain from the Gauley Mountain Coal Company mines to the main line of the C&O Railway. (January 2002 WV SHPO image)

Beehive coke oven ruins overgrown with very dense briars. (March 2018 image by author)

Another one of the coke ovens made unapproachable by impenetrable weeds and thorns. (March 2018 image by author)

Foundations for a tipple or mining structure. (March 2018 image by author)

Ghostly coal mine ruins in the woods. (March 2018 image by author)

This was once a railroad bed, now just a road. (March 2018 image by author)

Ruins of a company house - probably built by the Signal Knob Coal Co. - showing board and batten construction. (March 2018 image by author)

These company houses, however, were Gauley Mountain Coal Co. houses. (October 2017 image by author)

(March 2018 image by author)