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ECCLES

Allegedly named after the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, Eccles was the site of a terrible disaster when the No. 5 & No. 6 mine exploded in 1914 and killed 183 (mostly foreign-born) miners. At that time it was operated by New River Collaries, Inc., but by the 1930s the Crab Orchard Improvement, Co. had taken over. For a period of time Eastern Associated mined there and in the 1970s Westmoreland was still operating Eccles No. 5 in a spacious 8-foot of Beckley Seam. They also were in the Sewell seam in the No. 6 mine. Westmoreland kept the company store open until the late 1970s. Today, Eccles is all mined out but some people remain because Route 3 runs through it.


A circa 1950 view of the large coal processing plant at Eccles (Image courtesy of P. Wayne Lilly)


This picture shows the tipple that was at Eccles No. 6 in 1970. (Image courtesy of Dennis Lester)


Many of the large coal companies featured their own baseball teams. Shown here is the Eccles Admirals in 1949. Other coalfields baseball teams included ones at Slab Fork, Kopperston, Montcoal, and the Raleigh "Black Knights". Among African-American teams were the Raleigh Clippers and the Slab Fork Indians. (Image courtesy of P. Wayne Lilly)


Where the preparation plant was. In the background is a reclaim tunnel. (April 2001 image by author)


Another view of the ruins of the tipple. (December 2004 image by author)


Some of the company-built homes in Eccles (April 2001 image by author)


These coal camp houses are still extant along Route 3. There are some other ones up on the hill in "Allentown.". (November 2004 image by author)


What was once a gigantic gob pile has been mostly reclaimed. (December 2004 image by author)


This sheave on the mountain above the gob pile was the upper end of the aerial tramway. (February 2005 image by author)


This settling pond site, at the back of the Eccles No. 5 mine several miles away in Sweenysburg, shows just how far back the mine went. Before the mine flooded, I remember coming through Sweenysburg with my dad and seeing a fanhouse on top of an airshaft at this site. This was in the mid 1980s and there was probably still mining going on. (August 2001 image by author)


(April 2001 image by author)


Bill sends in this picture of coal miners at Eccles. He is assuming that it was the No. 5 day shift. His grandfather, R.D. Holt is circled in red. He had no light on his hard hat because he worked as an engineer and operated the hoist. (1945 image courtesy of Bill Holt)


Another picture of hard working miners at Eccles. (Image courtesy of Bill Holt)


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