Even though there is hardly anything left of them anymore, the Sun coal mines were one of the largest coal and coke operations in the New River Coalfield. In 1920 they employed 380 people and produced 208,442 tons of coal. Sun, WV was constructed (probably in the 1890's) by the New River Smokeless Coal Company. Around 1909 the New River Collieries Company acquired Sun, and they operated it until 1923. The final owner of the Sun mines was Stonega Coal & Coke Company, who ran Sun until they closed it in 1931. Sewell coal was mined in Sun Nos. 1, 2, & 3 mines, and some of it was coked in the facility's 125 beehive coke ovens. Nothing at all remains of the coke ovens today, and I have never seen a picture of them, either. By looking at state mining records it looks like Stonega Coal & Coke Co. took over the Sun coal mines in 1924. Stonega's production peaked in 1927 when they mined 503,574 tons of coal at Sun. The mines were closed in 1931.

October 2009 image by author

A few of the remaining coal camp houses from the New River Colliery Company's mining camp at Sun, WV.

1988 State Historic Preservation Office image

Red arrows show beehive coke oven ruins at Sun.

Image courtesy of Edward Dziedzic

A nicely dressed crowd poses in front of the Sun company store.

Image courtesy of Walter Caldwell

Another old picture of the Sun company store. By the time this photo was taken in the 1920's Stonega Coal & Coke Company was the owner of Sun mines and coal camp.

Image courtsy of Patrick

Patrick F. sent in this picture taken in 1915 at Sun, WV. He writes, "Here is a photo and a little information for your collection. Ruth Williamson (later married John Drenan), on the steps of the store at Sun, West Virginia. Taken about 1915. Ruth's sister Nellie (Williamson) Chase managed the boarding house there for a few years. Nellie's daughter wrote, 'My first memories of living anywhere was in Sun, West Virginia . Dad was a rock and coal contractor in the mines there, and Mother managed the Boarding House. My Grandma Williamson, and Mother's younger sister Ruth came to live with us there. Dad also worked in the ice-house across from the Boarding House and behind the store, when the mines were idle. I have memories of the Boarding House, the ice house, the school house, and the Church. We had big lilac bushes in the yard and I loved the flowers.'"

Image courtesy of Walter Caldwell

Old, old, old photograph of what Sun, WV used to look like.

Image courtesy of Walter Caldwell

New River Collieries Company Sun No. 1 tipple replete with shaker screens and picking tables. Note the company houses on the background. How did anyone get any sleep living next

Image courtesy of Walter Caldwell

The Sun No. 2 tipple was equally as impressive.

Image courtesy of Walter Caldwell

As you can see, Sun No. 2 was a shaft mine, whereas No. 1 & No. 3 were slope mines.

Penny Harris contributed the following pictures of Sun, W.Va.

Image courtesy of Penny Harris

Note the man and girl standing on the steps of the coal company house. Penny wrote that it is "my grandfather, Roy Sweeney, and his oldest daughter, my aunt Margaret, on the steps of the house the family lived in before he died." Note the patch of corn growing next to the house.

Penny continuted, "After he died, Stonega Coal Co. moved the family out of this two-story house into a little three room house. My grandma, Mary Sweeney, raised their four daughters in the three room house. She worked doing laundry and as a midwife, and raised a garden with chickens and a hog every year to feed her family. When Stonega Coal shut the power and water off in 1931, the girls carried buckets across the hill from a spring at Sweetwater, near Pax, to get water each morning and evening. Grandma moved her family to beckley each morning and evening.

"My aunt Margaret just passed away last year. She used to tell stories of the three older girls walking to Red Star in 1926 to get an old used area rug someone gave them when they bought a replacement. They put the rug and my Aunt Clara, who was only two at the time, on a toy wagon and hauled them home to Sun. She and my mom used to tell of having to dig coal out of the slate dump for heat after their father passed away. They also played baseball on the slate dump, using boards and pieces of slate as a ball. Until the day she died Mom had a tiny piece of slate embedded in her temple where she got hit by a piece that broke off one time after she hit it with a board during a game."

Image courtesy of Penny Harris

About this photo Penny wrote, "My grandfather, Roy Sweeney, was a klansman, and apparently about 60 of them came to the funeral when he died after a mine accident in 1924. They burned a cross and sang a 'hymn' entitled 'The Firey Cross.' My grandfather died after being crushed between the motor and some coal cars in the mine. He had been trying to set chocks to brake the motor and my uncle couldn't get stopped in time. My great uncle, also involved in the accident, said Stonega Coal ran an unsafe mine, often threatening to fire miners if they didn't hurry as much as they thought they ought to."

Image courtesy of Penny Harris

This is either a temporary tipple at Sun that sufficed until a full-scale one could be constructed, or else a tipple from a small mine near Sun.

Image courtesy of Penny Harris

The Sun company store when it was new.

Image courtesy of Penny Harris

1924 view of the Sun coal camp. Most of this is gone now.