MARIANNA, WV

This is a mining camp along the banks of the Guyandotte River in western Wyoming County. Marianna Smokeless Coal Co. opened the Sewell seam Marianna mine in 1940, making this one of the last coal camps in West Virginia to be constructed. The June 20, 1940 issue of Charleston Daily Mail announced that Pond Creek Pocahontas coal Co. (Marianna Smokeless's parent company) "acquires 6,000 acres of land," although it was probably a lease. The article also states that sales would be handled through Island Creek Coal Co., and later Marianna was outright owned by Island Creek Coal Co. In the mid-1960's, the nearby Douglas prep plant of Robinson-Phillips Coal Co. was removed for the construction of R.D. Bailey Lake. This caused Robinson-Phillips to re-locate to Marianna. My guess is that the original 6,000 acre Marianna lease was worked out by then, the Marianna plant was dormant, and Robinson-Phillips upgraded the coal preparation complex and moved in. (Being built in 1940, it was most likely a steel prep plant and not wood-framed tipple, and thus could be upgraded.) At this point it would have been a truck dump plant for the various Robinson-Phillips mines in the area. These operations probably ended in the 1980's or 90's, apparently leaving several Wilcox continous miners inside. But in the 21st Century Alpha has opened a new mine and prep plant at Marianna, still in the Sewell seam, starting a new chapter on coal mining in that area.


The Marianna coal camp, one of the last instances in West Virginia where a coal company built a small company town to house mining families. These were probably pre-fabricated houses brought in on a train. There were probably only about 20 or so houses at Marianna.(Sep. 2001 image by author)


A truck dump surrounded by conveyors. (Sep. 2001 image by author)


General view of the ruins standing where the prep plant used to be located. The structure on the left was actually part of the plant. (Sep. 2001 image by author)


The brown building on the right was probably a repair shop or lamp house or something. (Sep. 2001 image by author)


Looking down on the complex from up in the truck dump. (Sep. 2001 image by author)


Detail of a gravity take-up on the conveyor. (sep. 2001 image by author)


Steel stacking tube at the old stockpile area up on the hill. (sep. 2001 image by author)


This rail tunnel at Marianna was built by the Virginian Railway when they constructed their Guyandotte River branch in the 1920's. (Sep. 2001 image by author)


Looking down the track with the partial ruins of the preparation plant on the right. (Sep. 2001 image by author)


The prep plant at Marianna long ago. You can see the same plant feed conveyor crossing the railroad in the 2001 photo above. (Apr. 1960 mage 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)

In 1950 Oragnized Labor was at its height in America, especially in the Central Appalachian Coalfields. A February 3, 1950 Pittsburgh Press news item stated, "A miner was wounded today by a shot fired from a band of 100 union pickets attempting to close down a mine near here in the first outbreak of violence in Wyoming County in the current strike, police reported today. The victim was identified as Robert Cook [a common surname in central Wyoming County], 23, who was wounded in the wrist. Several other shots were fired by the pickets led by Harry T. Gibson, field representative for United Mine Workers District 29, according to Wyoming Sherrif John Miller. Sherrif Miller served Gibson with a Circuit Court injunction forbidding unlawful restraint of operations at the Marianna Smokeless Coal Co. where the shooting occured."


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