Sophia, WV is the commercial center for the eastern end of the Winding Gulf Coalfield.

Large, derlict coal tipple at Tralee, W.Va. (Oct. 1990 WV SHPO image)

Little is known about the coal camp named Sullivan except that the operator was Sullivan Coal & Coke Co.

An ancient fan, cut stone housing, and sheeted motor housing, located on Tommy Creek. (January 2004 photo)

A mine mouth of unknown origin in Tommy Creek hollow. (January 2004 photo)

This transfer structure for an overland conveyor on Tommy Creek is a remnant of Green Mountain Energy's Mine No. 1. (January 2004 photo)

Crozer Page Coal Co., Stephenson, WV. Later Consol owned the coal mine. (November 2002 photo)

Company houses built by the Buckeye Coal and Coke Company at Stephenson, WV (April 2007 photo)

This Virginian Railroad trestle at the northern edge of the field calls to mind the might of the steel, coal, and railroad industries during the "robber baron" era. (November 2006 photo)

The Mead Poca coal camp is now part of Mullens. It used to be a mining town opened around 1912 by the Mead Pocahontas Coal Company. (March 2004 photo)

The Herndon preparation plant on Barker's Creek loads a train on a crisp Friday morning in March 2004. The plant was built by Eastern Associated Coal Co. in the early 1960s. (March 2004 photo)

Trestle built by the Virginian Railway over Covel, WV (December 2006 photo)

Not many people would believe that there was ever a deep mine in White Oak, WV, next to the Beckley Water Company reservoir. But these foundations are the remants of just such a coal mine, not too far away from the Summers County line. This is at the edge of the Appalachian coal basin, and it was probably mined during the 1960s or '70s. (April 2005 photo)

Not much left at Woodpeck, W.Va. these days. Wood Peck Coal Company built opened the coal mine and coal camp in 1912. (November 2009 image by author)

(Photo courtesy of Chas. Dobbins) One possible coal camp in the Winding Gulf field was the one constructed by the Blue Jay Lumber Company to house the workers of their No. 7 mine. This was located near the present day location of the intersection of Blue Jay Six Road and the WV Turnpike. The name of the road must have been a reference to Blue Jay Mine No. 6, near the No. 7 mine. The USGS Flat Top quadrangle of 1929 clearly shows a community named "Blue Jay Mine No. 7" in that vicinity. The location of Blue Jay Mines Nos. 1 through 5 are unknown, but their tonnage has been recorded. The photo shown here is of the power house and motor barn at one of the Blue Jay Lumber Company coal mines, and appeared in the small magazine "The Log Train" in the 1980s. The article in the magazine showed other pictures from the Blue Jay mines, but did not identify at which mines the photographs were taken. Evidently information about the Blue Jay mines is scarce because the article states, " The exact number of mines operated by the Blue Jay Lumber Company, and their precise location, however, remains a mystery...As with their locations, the dates the mines were opened are unknown...The outcroppings of the Blue Jay mines may have been discovered after logging operations had cleared the timber from the hillsides, but the exact detail of their discovery is also a mystery." Another unknown is whether or not the Blue Jay mines were "captive" mines or if they shipped their coal to local and/or distant customers. The Blue Jay Lumber company would have have needed a great deal of coal for their own use. The company maintained a large saw mill at Blue Jay, WV, near present day Beaver, and also operated drying kilns and a lengthy railroad which ran out through Cool Ridge and down Flat Top Mountain to present day Camp Creek State Forest. The company would probably have needed coal to power the locomotives which brought the logs out of the forests and to the sawmills. However, one photo in the "Log Train" magazine article clearly shows a C&O hopper car, which may indicate that some surplus coal from the Blue Jay mines was sold to other customers.

1929 USGS map showing the mysterious Blue Jay No. 7 coal camp, which is located along the lumber railroad that ran from Blue Jay to Camp Creek. The WV Turnpike, shown in red, has been added at a later date. The map also shows a school and a church at the town. None of the other Blue Jay Lumber Co. mines are are known to have had their own mining camp.

A new coal mine and preparation plant are constructed in the Winding Gulf Coalfield: International Coal Group's Bay Hill plant and coal mine (in the Pocahontas No. 3 seam). This could end up being the last large scale coal mine to be developed in the Beckley, WV area, and thus the end of an era.

This drift portal at Blackeagle, W.Va. was the result of coal mining by Black Eagle Smokeless Coal Co., who opened the mine in 1934. Later the Blackeagle was a captive mine of Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pa. (2011 WVDEP Abandoned Mine Lands Program image)

Slate dump at the Blackeagle site. J&L Steel closed the Blackeagle mines in 1956. (2011 WVDEP Abandoned Mine Lands Program image)

Tipple ruins, probably from the Madeline Mine in Devils Fork Hollow. Madeline Smokeless Coal Co. opened the Madeline Mine and coal camp in 1926. (Apr. 1995 WV SHPO image by Melvin Hartley)



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