KEYSTONE, WV

Keystone was founded in 1892 by the Keystone Coal & Coke Company. The first mine there was Keystone No. 1, which produced for 94 years until it was exhausted in 1986. At that time it was the oldest coal mine in the Pocahontas Coalfield. On April 2, 1928 eight miners perished in an explosion of the Keystone No. 2 mine caused by a carbide light. In 1936 Koppers Coal Co. took it over and they mined 1,189,000 tons of coal three years later. By 1967, Eastern Associated Coal was the phoenix from the ashes of Koppers and they mined almost 2 million tons of Pocahontas No. 3 coal at Keystone. At that same time the Pocahontas Empire Coal Co. was stripping Pocahontas No. 12 at Keystone. Recently the coal processing plant and related mines, but no longer the town, were owned by Jim Justice's Bluestone Coal Company, and also the Russian-owned Mechel Company.


Part of the coal processing facility at Keystone. Note the steam from the thermal dryer, a piece of equipment used in the "smokeless" coal fields to dry the fine and ultrafine particulates of soft low-volatile coal that a centrifuge cannot. I understand it is now impossible to get a permit to build a new thermal dryer in WV. (1999 image by others)


Diagram of a typical thermal dryer installation. (Image from 1953 Coal Mechanization annual)


Still using an aerial tramway in Keystone to haul refuse (Dec. 2006 image by author)


Support tower and tram cars of aerial tramway. (Dec. 2006 image by author)


Steel coal silos are seldom seen anymore (Nov. 2000 image by author)


Parts of the Keystone preparation plant are of various ages. Parts of the plant may date back to the 1950s because of the prescence of blending bins, and the plant has been modernized with additions and updates, though there has been some kind of coal mining complex on this site for 120 years.(Dec. 2006 image)


I was told that these red brick coal camp houses were built by Eastern Fuel and Gas Company, and that this particular street was mostly populated by Italians. One Keystone resident still remembered all of the Italians buying a rail car full of grapes together to make wine. (Mar. 2004 image by author)


Some more of the distinctive brick homes in Keystone. (Mar. 2004 image by author)


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