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Abandoned Mining Towns in the U.S.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Surface mining, underground mining, coal mining and hardrock mining have all seen ups and downs throughout the decades. Some mining industries and locations have seen more downs than others, as there are over thousands of abandoned mines in the U.S.   Coal towns, or coal camps, popped up across the country as residences for miners to remain near the coal mines. As those mines stopped production, people moved elsewhere. Thus leaving abandoned coal towns. West Virginia alone has many abandoned coal and mining towns. Read on to learn more about these now-abandoned West Virginia towns.

Located in Fayette County, this town isn’t completely abandoned. At the time of the 2010 census, Thurmond had a population of five. Thurmond was incorporated in 1900 and was a town that not only was home to coal mining, but also home to facilities for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. At the height of coal mining, Thurmond was bustling for a smaller town, but saw a drastic population decrease once the coal mining industry wasn’t too promising. From 1900 to the 1940s, the town some steady population growth. But during the 1950s and 1960s, the town’s population started to dwindle. Now, a large portion of this semi-abandoned town is owned by the National Park Service, with the former railway depot functioning as the visitors’ center. Thurmond is even a designated historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. Those are some pretty good stats for a town of five.

Kay Moor
Kay Moor was once a coal town located near Fayetteville, West Virginia. The coal mine is now completely abandoned, leaving the town to succumb to the elements. Established in 1899, the Kay Moor mine was meant to supply coal to the Low Moor Iron Company. Low Moor kept ownership of the mine until 1925 when they sold it to New River and Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Company. This new company increased production in the mine during World War I, however all of Kay Moor’s beehive ovens closed in the 1930s as the technology had become obsolete. With technology not catching up fast enough, the mine had to close. By the 1950s, the surrounding town of Kaymoor Bottom was abandoned. In the 1960s, though, the place was wholly abandoned as most of the mine’s facilities had burned in a fire. If you were to visit Kay Moor today, you would only see the remnants of mining structures covered with vegetation. Though this town and mine were successful in the height of coal mining, it now is part of a nature trail.

Nuttallburg Coal Mining Complex
Formally named the Nuttallburg Coal Mining Complex and Town Historic District, this former mining town is located in Fayetteville, close to the Kay Moor site. As the name implies, Nuttallburg Coal Mining Complex was linked with the Nuttallburg underground mine. This particular mine was first established in 1870 by John Nuttall to help build up the New River Coalfield in West Virginia. John Nuttall chose this specific location for a mine because he expected a railroad to go through the area. Nuttall was right, and in 1873 the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad came to the area. By this time, the coal complex was thriving. The population of the town and workers of the mine started to increase after the railroad was built. It wasn’t until the 1920s when ownership of the mine changed hands a few times that production and population began to dwindle as certain railroad protocols made it difficult to ship coal outside the state. Now entirely abandoned, the National Park Service owns the Nuttallburg Coal Mining Complex. If one were to step foot into Nuttallburg today, there are frames of a few structures left, but none of the edifices still stand.

While these three locations just cover West Virginia, there are a multitude of coal towns and coal mines abandoned across the continental U.S.  Some may have been abandoned because of a decline in the industry, while others may have been abandoned for different reasons. But, these abandoned mines let people see into the past of mining.

Do you know of other abandoned coal towns, coal mines or other mines in the U.S.? Let us know what we should write about next in the comment section below.


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