KAYMOOR

Kaymoor was a mine and camp built by the Low Moor Iron Co. in 1899. The name is a combination of a company official, James Kay, and Low Moor. 101 coke ovens were built and they burned until 1935. At it's peak, Kaymoor employeed 1500 men. But the post office closed in 1952, and everyone moved out of the town during the 1950s. The mine operated until 1962. As late as 1964, the Barbara Gale Coal Co. was operating at Kaymoor on a lease. Then it was simply left as it was. It became overgrown and fell into disrepair until the National Park Service came to the New River Gorge. The NPS built steps down to the site, and also installed some interpretive signs. Also some site stabilization occurred. Yet, in addition to these positive steps that the Park Service took, they mortally wounded the centerpiece of the site - the Kaymoor tipple. According to local residents, CSX railroad heartlessly strongarmed the Park Service into dynamiting the tipple because it was afraid it would fall onto their adjacent and active railroad. I am so disappointed that the Park Service handled it this way, instead of repairing the tipple, as is being done across the river at Nuttalburg. Yet the NPS claims that a study of the Kaymoor tipple was performed, and it was found to be beyond rehabilitation.

NPS' blurb about Kaymoor


One of the first things you see before you start down the mountain is the ruins of the hoist house for the incline.


The "drift mouth" of the mine


The wooden headhouse built in 1899. Photo taken in 1999. As of 2007 this headhouse has collapsed and is just a jumble of lumber on the mountainside.


The cut stone powder house, which housed the exploives used to shoot down the coal, is still in good condition.


This was one of the portals that the coal cars came through from the mine going to the headhouse. Behind it is the ruins of the lamphouse and mine office.


The Kaymoor preparation plant (tipple). This isn't the original tipple, but one built in the 1930s when the unwieldly named New River & Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Co. took over operations.


View of the plant and rail yards. The power house is to the left.


Another photo of the tipple showing the slack coal bin on the right.


Some of the 101 coke ovens. I wish the park serive would remove some of the vegetation that is destroying these landmarks


All that's left of the town are these foundations.


But when this picture was taken in 1986 at least there was this one last coal camp house in Kaymoor Bottom. (Photo by Gerald Ratliff, courtesy "Wonderful West Virginia" magazine)


A special thank you to Beth Mier for submitting this picture of her uncle, Charles Huff, at the end of his shift at the Kaymoor mine. He lived at Garten, near Kaymoor Top camp.

2007 VISIT TO KAYMOOR:

In 2007 I hiked to the bottom at Kaymoor for the first time since 1999. Some things had really changed!


The coal car and drift portal are still in existence at the bench halfway down the mountain (the elevation where the coal outcropped). To the right is the ruins of the lamphouse. The fan house ruins and powder house are still there as well. But the wooden headhouse has collapsed into a heap of rotting boards. This saddened me very much.


This safety message is still on the steel beam crossing over the bench level mine complex.


Halfway down the steep mountainside between the higher bench level mine complex and the lower mine complex is this small structure. It may have been a place to house blasting caps, hence its remote location to minimize damage in case of a catastrophe.


My heart was broken when I arrived at the bottom and found the Kaymoor tipple half collapsed and laying on its side. After the columns supporting the tipple were dynamited by Dykon Blasting Corporation on March 10, 1999 (using only 25 pounds of explosives), the half-destroyed structure has been left to be interpreted as a historic ruin.


The stone power house next is still next to the tipple. The roof is partially intact, but obviously not over this portion of the large building.


Small sheds and deteriorating equipment surround the Kaymoor tipple.


This is the remains of one of the cars that hauled cargo and passengers from Kaymoor Top to Kaymoor Bottom.


It is unclear what part this buggy played in the coal and coke operations at Kaymoor.


After all of the years of exploring old coal mining sites I still cannot determine what this was used for.


The beehive coke ovens are still at Kaymoor, too. They are not getting any better though, as trees and vegetation continue to destroy them. These are some of the best preserved ovens, but many have collapsed.


Coke ovens engulfed in forest.


Some of the ovens were numbered, such as the one shown here designated "27."




In June 2007 Kris wrote, "I saw your note about wishing the Park Service would clean up the Kaymoor coke ovens. I visited Kaymoor two weeks ago. They did a nice job of cleaning up the trees. I'm really glad they did - it was too long of a climb to get down there to find them all overgrown." He also took these photos to show the newly cleaned up coke yard at Kaymoor. Good job Park Service. (Photo courtesy Kris Rossmiller)


This was clearly the right thing to do if the ovens are to survive.(Photo courtesy Kris Rossmiller)


(Photo courtesy Kris Rossmiller)



Rick B. contributes this 2011 photo and writes, "The coke ovens are,sadly, once again grown over with scrappy weeds and bushes."


Rick also went in this building, about which he says, "We went into the machine shop, where there was tons of "artifacts" as I guess one would call them."


Another picture Rick took inside what he called the machine shop, and which I think may be the power house.


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