KOPPERSTON, WV

Kopperston was named after Koppers Coal Co. who founded the town in 1938 as one of the last company-built coal camps in Appalachia. The next year they mined 329,864 tons of coal there. By the time Koppers had metamorphisized into Eastern Associated, they were mining millions of tons per year in the Eagle and Campbell's Creek seams. The tipple continued to process contract coal until it was closed in 1997. The last superintendent was Mike Phipps. Norfolk-Southern was recently still using a loadout at the Kopperston site to load coal from Eastern's Harris No. 1 mine, which came over the mountain via a 5 mile long overland conveyor that has no idlers.


This weathered sign was still on the abandoned bath house in 2001. (May 2001 image by author)


Old photo of miners at the mine portal. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


The Kopperston coal processing plant just before its demolition. (2004 image courtesy of Harold Trent)


The big idle prep plant at Kopperston as it looked in August 2001. (Aug. 2001 image by author)


The original prep plant before all of the upgrades and additions. (Image courtesy VT ImageBase, housed and operated by Digital Library and Archives, University Libraries; scanning by Digital Imaging, Learning Technologies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)


The old loadout behind the defunct prep plant. (Dec. 2000 image by author)


The refuse conveyor and the slate dump. (Dec. 2000 image by author)


This was the aerial tramway to the slate dump before the conveyor was installed. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


The railyard looking down toward the plant. This was actually the end of the line for the Virginian (later Norfolk-Southern) Morri Branch that ran from Baileysville through Lynco and Oceana. (May 2001 image by author)


I think these coal miners are standing in line either for their brass checks or to get their lamp batteries charged at the lamp house. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


Inside the bath house. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


Old picture of the Kopperston bath house. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


The abandoned bath house after the Kopperston mines were closed. (May 2001 image by author)


The Mid-Century Modern-styled maintenance shop. (May 2001 image by author)


Kopperston coal camp in its prime. (1946 image courtesy U.S. Department of Interior)


Kopperston feels more like a quaint little town than a coal camp because Koppers Company took the novel approach of building houses that didn't all look alike. It probably rivaled Holden as the nicest coal company town in Southern West Virginia. (May 2001 image by author)


View of coal company houses along the road in Kopperston. (Mar. 2002 image by author)


Kopperston company houses when they were newer, again showing the use of a variety of home styles, as opposed to the rows of cookie cutter houses common in most coal company towns. Of course Kopperston was one of the last coal camps to be constructed, so industrial worker reforms would be more obvious in a "model" coal town built in the 1930's than a coal camp built in 1910. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


A back yard of a small but tidy company house. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


This photo of the inside of a Koppertson company house defies the perception that coal mining towns had to be squalid and filthy. This looks like it could have been anywhere in America. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


The art deco Koppers Company store is no longer there. (Image courtesy of "Triubte to the Coal Miner" with permission)


Happy, healthy coal miners' kids. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


The boarded up school at Kopperston. (May 2001 image by author)


Kopperston school when it was open many years ago. (1940's image from "A Medical Survey of the Bituminous Coal Industry" via the National Archives)


The walkway under Rt. 85 to the Kopperston No. 1 mine mouth. (May 2001 image by author)


(May 2001 image by author)


Ray writes, "I grew up in an a typical coal town, Kopperston, where my step dad was the General Tipple Foreman. Kopperston was supposed to be the show-town of Eastern Gas & Fuel, Koppers Division, and was purchased by the Peabody Coal company after I left in 1959. The company store, operated by Koppers while I lived there, was sold to Island Creek Coal company, and later demolished. I was last in Kopperston in the early 1990's, and the store was being taken down at that time. I had no desire to work in the mines, being somewhat apprehensive about going underground. I do remember clouds of black dust coming down the valley (holler) day after day. Mom would have me rinse off the porch almost daily, so as not to track the dust in the house, which was a losing cause, as you can imagine. The creek ran black from the process of cleaning the coal, and remained that way for years, before they began pumping the waste water to the other side of the huge slate dump. It wasn't too long after that minnows began living in the cleaned water. We lived just south of the Company Store. My brother worked for Eastern Gas, in the main Kopperston office. He told me Kopperston was one of the most productive mines in WV, sending two 150 car trains out per day. I also remember the switch from steam to diesel."


Ray also contributed a panoramic photo of Kopperston. It is too wide for this webpage, but here is part of it. (Image courtsy of Ray)


SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA COALFIELDS


APPALACHIAN COALFIELDS HOME

History of coal mining. History of West Virginia. History of Logan County West Virginia. History of Boone County West Virginia. History of Lincoln County. History of Mingo County. History of Logan WV. Pocahontas Coal Seam. Historic Pictures. Historic Photographs. Historic books. Historic Maps. History publications. Geography. Polish immigrants. Slovak immigrants. Italian immigrants. West Virginia immigrants. Appalachian music. Appalachian culture. Historic architecture. Historic buildings. Historic towns. Organized labor. Unions. United Mine workers. Archives.