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STONEGA, VIRGINIA

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Duplex housing on "Quality Row" in Stonega, VA. I'm not surprised to see this style of housing, which is so common to Pennsylvania coal towns, in Virginia. At least some members of the management of Virginia Coal and Iron Company, the predecessor of Stonega Coke and Coal Co., were from Pennsylvania. (Image courtesy of Brian McKnight)


The bosses row in Stonega, called "Park Place". (Jan. 2007 image by author)


Company houses in Lower Stonega - the White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant section of Stonega. (Jan. 2007 image by author)


Upper Stonega, the African-American section of the coal camp, had the feel of a ghost town here. Called "Red Row", the houses were probably built around 1896 when the Stonega coal mines and coal camp were first opened. (Jan. 2007 image by author)


This was probably the school for African-American people during segregated times. (Jan. 2007 image by author)


This church was still located at the other end of this section of Stonega. The entire Red Row section of Stonega has been demolished. (Jan. 2007 image by author)


Red Row when it was still populated. (1960s image courtesy of thejohnboswellblog.com)


This dilapidated bath house is still in existence at Stonega. (Jan. 2007 image by author)


Stone foundations from the tipple (left) and the ruins of the machine shop (right) at Stonega. A beehive coke yard, built in the mid 1890s, used to be located here, but it was destroyed a long time ago. Only the wall that the coke workers stood on remains. This coke works was idled in 1953, a year after the last coal mine at Stonega was closed. A new coal mine and preparation plant, named the Wentz operation, opened in the 1960s at the edge of Stonega and in 2007 continues to produce. It is truly amazing that, after 110+ years of coal mining, the coal reserves have not been exhausted yet. (Jan. 2007 image by author)


A 1976 article about the Andover Shopping Center appeared in many newspapers across America. It said, "The company stores look ridiculous in the age of shopping plazas, and the only real competition between the company luncheonette and McDonald's is that both serve rubber on sesame seed buns.

"Still, there are in the nation obscure pockets which company store continue to pick. One reportedly is in the tucked-away coal region of the Virginia panhandle. There four locals of the United Mine Workers have filed suit against the Westmoreland Coal Co. in protest against the practices and philosophy of the company's stores.

"The miners have apparently been grumbling about the Westmoreland situation since the days when coal cooked the eggs of the nation, but the arguments have only recently been formalized. Attorney Strother Smith says at least one Westmoreland store, the Andover Shopping Center near Appalachia, Va., operates as if it was still acceptable 'for men to owe their souls to the company store.' Smith says he knows no other labor issue in the area as sensitive as this one.

"Like voices from the medieval past of the coal business, miners ay the Andover store uses its credit and its services as an extention of company hostility towards them. Roger Barker, for example, a 28-year-old who irritates the company with endless safety complaints, says that he was fired for his militancy one time and within minutes his company store creidt was revoked. He had a paycheck pending from which the store could deduct his charges, 'but all they wanted to do was hurt me as much as they could, in this case by denying me groceries.'"

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