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RALEIGH

At one time Raleigh was the second largest town in Raleigh County. The mine and camp were opened in 1909 by the Raleigh Coal and Coke Co. The name brand for their coal, taken from the Beckley Seam, was "Black Knight." According to local historian Jim Wood, a total of 128 miners died in the Raleigh mines. The C&O located their train yard for the area here. Evidently, by the late 1940s Raleigh Coal and Coke realized that their reserves were running out, and they began scouting around the Winding Gulf Coalfield for new areas to develop. Apparently nothing came of it, because the company closed in 1950.

A November 25, 1950 article in the Beckley Post-Herald was titled, "Raleigh Coal and Coke Quits Operations." It stated, "Oldest Active Producer Closes After 52 Years. Fifty-two years of continuous coal mining operations was brought to a dramatic conclusion yesterday morning when Raleigh Coal & Coke Company announced that operations were 'closed down indefinitely.' Founded in 1898 to tap the famous Beckley seam at Raleigh, the firm was the oldest active coal producer and at one time the largest operator in Raleigh County ... R.J. Burmeister, president of the company, explained the action by declaring that 'virtually all of the minable and merchantable coal has been exhausted from the lease. Therefore, it is up to the time when mining operations must cease and the lease be surrendered.' All of the mines operated by Raleigh Coal & Coke have been under a lease from Beaver Coal Corporation. The virgin seam of Beckely coal tapped first by Raleigh Coal & Coke is almost completely depleted and the tonnage was diminishing rapidly when the decision was reached by company officials. Since the Beckley seam was the only one mined by the company there was nothing else to do when this supply was exhausted. Miners employed at the opreation, approximately 280 in number, received the news in stunned silence. Gathered in small groups at the company store, they would greet newcomers, point to the announcement, and say,'There it is,' then retreat back into silence. The quiet atmosphere in the company store, usually a bustling place of business, was noticable the minute anyone stepped inside the doors. Little conversation was heard from anyone because there was nothing to say ...Among Raleigh's shipments, which have gone to every state in the Union, to Canada, the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, and other foreign countries, have been those to the atomic plant at Hanford,Wash. via the Panama Canal. Ships have taken Raleigh coal as far as the tin mines in China."



Bird's eye view of Raleigh, WV. (Mar. 2009 image by author)


The Raleigh coal camp back in "the day" (Image courtesy of "Tribute to the Coal Miner Vol. 4," with permission)


Some of the company built houses are still there today. (Nov. 2004 image by author)


Part of the coal camp (Feb. 2001 image by author)


Another part of the coal camp with company-built two-story houses (Oct. 1998 image by author)


Though they are somewhat common in Pennsylvania, these "saltbox" coal camp houses are rare in Raleigh County. (Nov. 2004 image by author)


In contrast to the miner's homes in the "bottom" of Raleigh, this house higher up on the hill belonged to the mine engineer. Typically the homes of the company officials were more elaborate and substantial than the homes the coal companies provided for the miners' families.(Jun. 2005 image by author)


Detail of the foundation on the engineer's house. According to the owner it is original. (Jun. 2005 image by author)


Staircase ascends out of the living room. (Jun. 2005 image by author)


Detail of the parquet floor on the second level of the engineer's house (Jun. 2005 image by author)


Many coal miner's homes didn't have closets. The residents usually owned a wardrobe. But this view of a bedroom in the engineer's house shows a closet (with a more than adequate capacity) and the ornate style of window found thorughout the house. (Jun. 2005 image by author)


The company store as it looks in modern times. (Feb. 2001 image by author)


The company store as it looked in the 1940's. (Image courtesy of "Raleigh County - A Century of Pictures," with permission)


The swastikas on this power station have nothing to do with Nazi Germany, since it was built before World War II. (Feb. 2001 image by author)


It's amazing that the mule stable at Raleigh has survived. (Jun. 2005 image by author)


The door of the mule stable. (Jun. 2005 image by author)


In addition to the coal camp, Raleigh features this small rail yard built by the C&O and now operated by CSX. On the left is the depot and on the right is the coaling tower dating from the era of steam locomotives. The Raleigh train yard was of great significance until the 1980's, as all of the coal that C&O brought out of the Gulf, from the spur through Skelton to Cranberry, and from the branch through Mabscott, Eccles, and on to Maple Meadows mine came through here. Now with most of the operations closed, the yard is of decreased importance. It's current purpose appears to be the base of maintenance operations for the Piney Creek subdivision of CSX, as rail operations are now based out of Quinnimont. (Jun. 2005 image by author)


The historic depot at the Raleigh train yard (Jun. 2005 image by author)


End view of the depot (Jun. 2005 image by author)


Detail of door to the yardmaster's office (Jun. 2005 image by author)


The coaling tower held many tons of fuel for the steam engines that powered C&O trains until the 1950's. (Jun. 2005 image by author)


CSX stockpile of spare parts in the Raleigh yard. (Jun. 2005 image by author)


Supply warehouse in the Raleigh yard (Jun. 2005 image by author)


In 2015 I had to drive through Raleigh on a business jaunt. Since I already had my camera in my lap I snapped a few pictures:


The yellow building on the left may have been a boarding house. In the background can be seen the former Raleigh Coal & Coke power house.(May 2015 image by author)


Sadly some of these coal camp houses are still inhabited. (May 2015 image by author)


Possible boarding house, railroad tracks, and former company store. (May 2015 image by author)


Some of the two story "salt box" company houses are still there in various stages of alteration. (May 2015 image by author)


This little house could have been a company doctor's office, or almost anything. (May 2015 image by author)


I was once told that these houses way up on the mountain above Raleigh were built as a residential development around 1940 by Raleigh Coal & Coke Co. named Raleigh Heights. (May 2015 image by author)


This large building named "Casa Loma" was originally constructed by Raleigh Coal & Coke and is now home to UMWA District 29. (May 2015 image by author)


Sidewalks were a rare commodity in most coal camps. (May 2015 image by author)




Steve Bennett sent in these pictures he took of the remains of Raleigh No. 6 mine. The remains are over the hill from the end of Woodlawn Avenue in Beckley. Stever writes, "I grew up a few yards from the #6 tipple ruins and my job as a kid was to take the tin cans and trash that would not burn and toss them into a recess in the tipple ruins. Later in the 1970's a load-out was built on top of the tipple ruins partially destroying it and partially covering it. During construction of the load out a blast sent a boulder through our roof. The load-out only operated a couple years. Today there is no sign of the load-out from the 70's but the rest of the #6 tipple remains are still there hidden in thick briers. I cut myself all to crap to get these photos."


(Nov. 2015 image by Steve Bennett)


(Nov. 2015 image by Steve Bennett)


(Nov. 2015 image by Steve Bennett)


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