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VALLEY (RADFORD) FIELD


Portion of a 1925 Virginia Geological Survey Map

This is actually a non-bituminous coalfield. In this instance we have a semi-anthracite coalfield in the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford area of Virginia. The commercial center of the coalfield was Montgomery and Pulaski Counties, but, geologically speaking, the field extneds into Wythe, Bland, Roanoke, and Craig Counties. Some of the coal mines actually went under the New River. The success of this coalfield was a mixed result. The golden age of this coalfield seems to have been the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and I am not aware of any active coal mines in the area in the 21st Century.


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
This was the tipple of the Pulaski Anthracite Coal Co. at Parrott, VA as it looked in 1905.


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 large tipple that used to be at Merrimac, VA. Although coal had been extracted in the area since the late 18th Century, including Civil War-era mining by the Confederate government, this large scale commercial mine commenced operations in 1903. The owner was the Virginia Antracite Coal and Railway Company.


Jan. 2007 image by author
Now only foundations, like these stream enclosures, remain from the Merrimac tipple. And though the VAC&RC built an entire company town to support their Merrimac mine, today the town has vanished.



Jan. 2007 image by author
The Merrimac mine site is now a "Coal Miners Heritage Park", and this hoist has been relocated there as a "visual aid." Coal from this mine powered the Merrimack in her battle against the Monitor in the Battle of Hampton Roads.


Jan. 2007 image by author
Another prop at the Merrimac mine site is this underground coal car.


Jan. 2007 image by author
These are fragments of the foundations of the wash house at Merrimac.



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
Mining at Merrimac continued off and on until 1935, when it was closed for the last time due to labor strife.

Special thanks to Bill Edmonds for giving me the book "Merrimac Mines" by Garland Proco (1994), a great source of information for this page.


Sources:

Proco, Garland Merrimac Mines. Southern Printing, Inc., 1994.

LaLone, Mary B, editor. Coal Mining Heritage Park, Montgomery County, Virginia: Study, Plan, and Recommendations. Radford University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, 2000.


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