AFFINITY, WV

A mine and coal camp were built here in the 1910's. It was served by both the C&O and Virginian railroads. There is nothing left of the camp. Eastern Associated Coal Co. rebuilt the mine in the late 1960s. The coal was from the Pocahontas No. 3 seam. They closed the mine in April 1984, but not because it was mined out. The Affinity mining complex is located on Soak Creek between Pemberton and Sophia. Circa 2010 this mine reopened.


(image courtesy West Virginia Coal Scrip Collecting)


Update: White Mountain Mining threw up a guard shack in 2002 and was rumored to be pumping the Affinity mine in anticipation of possibly reopening the mine. In late 2005 the now defunct White Mountain Mining sold the idled prep plant and deep mine to United Coal Company, who eventually reopened the mine. (May 2002 image by author)


An overhead photo of the Affinity coal preparation comples when it was new. The sheeting on the plant is even shiny. (Image courtesy West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries)


The Affinity preparation plant. (Feb. 2001 image by author)


General view of the coal processing facility. The large pipe is from the hydrothermal dryer. The N-S railroad track at the far right is still active. (Feb. 2001 image by author)


Diagram of a typical thermal coal dryer. (Department of Energy image)


Could these have been the most ornate silos in the coalfields? (Feb. 2001 image by author)


Another side of the Affinity preparation plant. (Nov. 2005 image by author)


The loadout for the railroad. (Nov. 2005 image by author)


The slope portal near the shop and bathhouse has an inscription that reads "1937." (Nov. 2005 image by author)


The Affinity operation had been closed for quite a while when I was poking around. (Feb. 2001 image by author)


These coal camp houses at Affininty are all gone now. (Image courtesy of "Raleigh County - A Century of Pictures" by David Sibray)


Rodger shares this picture with us. It is the last crew to work the Affinity plant at the time it was idled in 1984. The coal boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s had ended, and Eastern was closing the plant because the bottom had fallen out of the coal market. Rodger writes, "We were getting $100.00 per ton when the steel market went bust." (Image courtesy of Rodger)

From an April, 1949 Raleigh Register article titled, "Water Worst Need at Affinity One-Room Negro Grade School:" "Water is that stuff people use freely on concrete walks and lawns, and is about the only part of the meal restaurants offer free of charge. But in many coal camps, there's only one outlet for water, and it's not so universally distributed. To reach the Affinity Negro one-room school it takes a steep climb over a hillside strewn with slate, and when you arrive at the top, there's scarcely enough water in the crock to satisfy everyone's thirst ... Students hike down to the one water hydrant in the cheerless town of Affinity to secure their supply of water. They love to do it, said Mrs. Esther King, teacher, but she thinks real running water would still look good to the school. At Fireco [a nearby coal camp], there's a somewhat worse situation. Teacher Mrs. Cora Brown said she keeps no drinking water because the school's sealed container is worn out. Carrying water in an open bucket is unsanitary, she said, and the water crock leaks. The water which the school has in projects is used for washing purposes mostly. The children carry water in open buckets to their own homes, Mrs. Brown said, but she still feels a better example should be set by the school."

Hard to believe but the above article describes life in an America which had already entered the Atomic Age. But, even though West Virginia was racially segregated, at least the newspaper referred to the teachers with the dignified title of "Mrs." At that time, newspapers in Mississippi and Alabama would have only called them by their first name, refusing to address Afrian-Americans as Mr. or Mrs.


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