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KINGSTON, WV

A whole mining camp with a population of 2,5000 was once at Kingston, opened in 1911 by the Solvay Collieries Co., which was probably a coal mining arm of Semet-Solvay Co. (aka Solvay Process Co.), a coke by-products firm similar to Koppers Co., and who also operated mines at Harewood in another part of the Kanawha Coalfield. Anyway, in 1920 there were two YMCAs, a theatre, and bowling alley at Kingston. From 1923 until 1947 the name of the operator was the Kingston Pocahontas Coal Co., which was the new name of Semet-Solvay's coal mining subsidiary. (The "Pocahontas" part of the name came from their mines in McDowell and Mercer Counties.) In 1947 the name was changed to simply the Semet Solvay Co., Inc., and mining ended several years after that, before new Kingston mines opened around 2000. However, at some point the town of Kingston was completely removed except for the school. Kingston, WV really does not exist anymore. Kingston was the end of the line for the Paint Creek Branch of the C&O Railroad. The last train rolled down the track in January 1988, and now the track has been removed.


Old photo of Kingston coal camp. This must have been taken when Kingston was new, because the simple company store in the picture was later replaced by an elaborate cut stone store. (WV Geological Survey image via Google Books)


The only thing remaining from the town of Kingston, WV is this school building, which was reported to have been closed in 1960. (Circa 2010 image courtesy of Doug Farley)


The Kingston tipple after the mines closed. (1967 image courtesy WV State Archives)


Another view of the abandoned Kingston tipple. (1967 image courtesy WV State Archives)


One of the last (abandoned) coal camp houses at Kingston. (1967 image courtesy WV State Archives)


Another empty company house at Kingston in the 1960's. This style of home was seen at many West Virginia coal camps, and probably was one of the pre-fabricated company houses that came in on the train for the creation of an instant town. (1967 image courtesy WV State Archives)


The town of Kingston is gone, but an active coal mine was located there many years later. This is the Kingston prep plant that was operated by Pioneer Fuel and Foundation Coal, among others. The coal was either trucked down the WV Turnpike to barges in the Kanawha River, or put on the train at a loadout at Pax built in the 2000's. (2001 image courtesy of Sal C.)


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