Gary, named after U.S. Steel Chairman Judge Elbert Gary, was the crown jewel in U.S. Steel's mining empire (though the people in Lynch, KY may disagree). Gary was the central part of the coal camp, and the surrounding towns like Elbert, Ream, Filbert, Thorpe, and Wilcoe were the satellite coal camps around the Gary nucleus. Amazingly this was a company operated town until as late as 1971. Still, U.S. Steel continuted mining here until the mid-1980s.

The prep plant at Gary was once the largest in the world (Courtesy VT ImageBase, housed and operated by Digital Library and Archives, University Libraries; scanning by Digital Imaging, Learning Technologies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Coke ovens at Gary were part of the No. 3 Works.

Homes on bosses row show what a major coal camp Gary was.

Another part of the Gary camp with lesser, but still large, company-built houses

This huge refuse conveyor coming off the mountain is so large that it has cable suspension

The Gary prep plant - gone but not forgotten

Company-built houses for the workers of the Gary No. 1 Works. Note the official's house at the end of the street.

Smaller coal camp houses up the hollow behind Gary.

These are the same style of duplex houses that U.S. Steel was so fond of constructing at it's coal mining towns in Pennsylvania.

This used to be the bank in Gary. The sign now reads "Coaldiggers Museum," but it doesn't appear to be accessible to the public yet. "Coaldiggers" was the school mascot in Gary.

This church was an A.M.E. Zion Church, a primarily African-American denomination. It is unclear whether or not the church is still active.

These former repair shops are located in the heart of Gary, and probably served all of U.S. Coal and Coke's mines that surrounded Gary. They are now owned by the Gary municipal government.

A closer look at one of the cut stone repair shops.

Detail of the rear of one of the shops.

Sign reads, "No persons allowed in carpenter shop with out safety shoes and hat during working hours."

This steel crossover was constructed around 1917 to allow the workers and citizens of Gary to cross over the busy railroad to reach the repair shops, coke ovens, and stores of the coal camp. A Norfolk-Southern employee is standing on the caboose passing under the walkway in this picture.

I don't remember where I got this picture of a train winding through Gary.

This sign for "bone pickers" once hung on the wall at Gary but is now on display at the Eastern Coal Archives in Bluefield, WV.

R. Tim Gilley sent in this photo and writes, "I am attaching a copy of a photo of the Gary Restaurant which is from a slide I found in my parents photos, etc. This photo was taken sometime the late 1800's or early 1900's. [The restaurant was actually built in 1913 - webmaster.] There is a Gary Restaurant photo at West Virginia Archives made in 1920, when that photo was made the structure had expanded considerably. Enjoyed your web presentation, considering having grown up in Southern West Virginia, SW Virginia, and Letcher Co., Ky. Is really strange going back into these areas and seeing all those sub-surface mining operations closed, and all surface structures removed. I have a wide area photo of that area between Havaco and Gary, where U.S. Steel Coal Co., had its Tipple Cleaning Plant with its long conveyor extending from the bottom over the road way to the top of the mountain. My dad was Fed. Mine Safety Engineer having worked initially in Coalwood/Caretta, WV., then when Consol Coal Co. sold to Carter, we moved to Jenkins, Letcher Co., Ky, in 1934. Ultimately we returned to McDowell Co ... While in Coalwood, Dad was one of the Mine Foremen as was Homer Hickam, Sr., until the later became Mine Supt., when Carter Coal took over. We lived in the second two story house down from Capt. Carter's house where the Hickams moved, on Tipple Row in Coalwood."

Another picture from Mr. Gilley, which he describes: "I am sending attached photo taken in 1948, when the top of Wilcoe/Havaco Mountain was being readied for the conveyor belt extending from the prep plant to carry the waste to the impounding area. My brother, being a retired federal mine safety engineer, had this photo."

Photo of the opening of the new Gary No. 12 mine, courtesy of Chris Druehl. He writes, "My grandfather was involved with coal mines in both Lynch, KY and Gary,WV. He was a coal mining engineer and I remember visiting Gary in my youth. Too bad I never asked any questions! I have a picture that may interest you taken Oct 31, 1945 of the first cut being taken in the coal by the mining machine in Gary, WV North Portal Mine No 12....smokless coal." Note the employees of U.S.C.& C. with their hats raised in salute to the new mine.

Special thank you to Alex Schust, author of "Gary Hollow," for clearing up some of the misinformation on this page. The website for his book is



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