THACKER COAL FIELD



Stone, KY was established as a coal camp by the Pond Creek Coal Company in 1912. Ten years later the Stone coal mines and coal camp were sold to Fordson Coal Company, a captive mine of the Ford Motor Company. The buildings pictured here were built by Fordson, probably around 1923-24. The building on the left was the company store, in the center was the company offices, and the building on the right was a recreational building containing a restaurant and theatre. (Dec. 2006 image by author)


In 1936 Fordson Coal Co. sold their mines at Stone, as well as nearby McAndrews and McVeigh, to Eastern Coal Corp. It was Eastern. marketing their product as "Red Robin" coal, that originally painted this sign on the side of the recreational building. Shown here is a newly repainted sign on top of the old one. This was accomplished by Stone Heritage, Inc., the volunteer group that actually saved these historical structures from demolition and operates a museum in the center office building. The museum was open Saturdays from 10 until 3 or 4 (or on other days by making an appointment) when I visited it in 2006, but I do not know the current status of the little museum. (Dec. 2006 image by author)


This row of houses in Stone was for the officials of the coal company. The home at the right is actually a portion of the old clubhouse. (Dec. 2006 image by author)


Stone, KY - miner's company houses, the old railroad bed, with the brick company buildings in the background. When the mines on Pond Creek began to mechanize in the 1950s, people probably began to move away to cities such as Detroit and Columbus. As mining further declined over the years more people probably left Stone and the surrounding coal camps. But several Pond Creek Reunions were held for a time at nearby Jenny Wiley Park, so that the former and current residents of these old coal towns can still get together and intermingle. However, I don't know if these reunions are still happening. (Dec. 2006 image by author)


A vintage view of the coal preparation facility that used to exist at Stone, KY (Image courtesy of Stone Heritage, Inc.)


Company houses in Aflex, KY, probably constructed in 1917 by the Leckie Collieries Company. According to "The Black Diamond" magazine, Aflex was considered a "model" coal town. The magazine marveled at the clean drinking water, sanitary sewer system, and electrified homes that were available to the residents at Aflex. (Circa 2005 image courtesy of David Price)


Church on the hill in Aflex, KY. (Circa 2005 image courtesy of David Price)


Christy Reaves writes, "Hello - my dad grew up in Aflex. His father was a superintendent at the Leckie mine there. I love your website, and thought you might like a few of the photos my dad and I found while scanning pictures for a reunion." One of the pictures they sent in was this one of the April 1977 flood in Aflex. This devastating flood affected a huge area in central Appalachia, including areas of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee. (1977 image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


Christy and her father also sent in this vintage photograph of Fred Leckie and other coal miners at Aflex. The Thacker and Pond Creek coal seams were worked in the Aflex mines. (Image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


Here is a 1944 picture of a young coal miner at Aflex named Vito Ragazzo, who later played college and (Canadian) professional football before becoming coach at VMI and Wake Forest. (May 1944 image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


View of the company store that used to be located at Aflex. (Image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


Another photo of the company store at Aflex showing how it looked in a Winter snow. (Image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


This was the superintendent's house at Aflex. In the background is the company store. (Image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


Looking at the Aflex superintendent's house from another angle, with the company bookeeper's house to the right. (Image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


Large lumps of coal loaded into Norfolk & Western rail cars at Aflex. (Image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


Rare pic of a Leckie Collieries Company coal truck at Aflex. (Image courtesy of D. L. Coleman)


Abandoned truck dump tipple in Freeburn, KY. (July 2005 image by author)


The former Norfolk & Western trestle that crossed the Tug Fork and headed into Majestic, KY. (Image courtesy of David Price)


Former Majestic Collieries Company store in Majestic, KY. (Image courtesy of David Price)


Ruins of the tipple - Majestic, KY. (Image courtesy of David Price)


Postcard of the coal camp that was at Sharondale, Kentucky. (Image courtesy of David Price)


Many steel companies, such as U.S. Steel, Bethlehem Steel, Inland Steel, and Republic Steel, owned "captive" mines in Eastern Kentucky. One of the last steel companies to own a coal mine in the region was Steel Company of Canada (STELCO), which operated the subsidiary Chisholm Coal Company near Phelps, KY. Though the mine closed in the early 2000's, here is a photo of the preparation plant and huge suspended conveyor that existed there until recently. Now what remains of "Big Steel" has divested themselves of "captive" coal mines and purchases coal on the open market for use in their coke ovens. (Image by others)

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