“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Whipple Junction in Fayette County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

The Coal Barons


— Coal Heritage Trail — National Coal Heritage Area Interpretive Site —

The Coal Barons Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 14, 2019
1. The Coal Barons Marker
Inscription.  In the late 1800s, speculators, mining companies and investors were attracted to the vast, untapped seams of coal lying under the West Virginia mountains. The first coal operators created company towns, or coal camps, where everything was controlled by the company. Miners paid rent for a company house, bought goods at the company store, were treated by the company doctor and went to a church whose preacher was hired by the company. Some of these early captains of industry were patriarchal, treating the miners well. Others ruled with an iron fist. “King” Samuel Dixon was one of these.

Dixon was one of the most well-known and controversial of the early coal barons. Born in Scarborough, England, he opened coal mines in West Virginia in 1893, including Scarbro (named for his birthplace), Carlisle, Oakwood and Wingrove. In 1906, Dixon bought Whipple and several other mines and formed the New River Company, dominating the New River coal field.

The same year that Sam Dixon started mining, Justus Collins opened the mine at Whipple, along with several other mines. He built identical octagonal company stores
Whipple National Coal Heritage Area Interpretive Site image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 15, 2019
2. Whipple National Coal Heritage Area Interpretive Site
Six interpretive panels are across the street from the Whipple Company Store and Museum, next to a parking area. This interpretive panel is the third panel from the left.
in all of his coal camps. The building standing behind you is the only one left. Collins is famous for saying that mine managers should strive for a “judicious mixture” of race and nationality groups, believing it would stop unionization.

Sam Dixon and Justus Collins despised each other. Their feud is legendary, even coming to physical altercation. In 1906, Collins sold the Whipple mine to Dixon and left the area.

Bramwell. Many of the coal barons in Southern West Virginia gravitated to Bramwell, a small town in Southern West Virginia near Bluefield. Bramwell was once considered the richest town in the U.S., with more millionaires per capita than any other town in the nation. The town prospered with Victorian mansions and a lavish social life. Today, Bramwell is on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic train depot is a Visitor Center and Museum, operated by the Coal Heritage Highway Authority. A walking tour of the town gives a glimpse of a bygone era.
Location. 37° 57.506′ N, 81° 9.945′ W. Marker is in Whipple Junction, West Virginia, in Fayette County. Marker is at the intersection of Okey L Patterson Road (West Virginia Route 612) and Scarbro Road (Route 1/5), on the right when traveling east on Okey L Patterson Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Scarbro WV 25917, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other
Whipple Company Store No. 4 image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 15, 2019
3. Whipple Company Store No. 4
The store/museum closed. The building was sold to a private owner. The owners of the museum report that “the building known as the ‘Whipple Company Store’ has been sold in Oct. 2018 to a private owner. It is my understanding that continual restoration including the roof and siding is in the future.”
markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Disaster Underground (here, next to this marker); Community Life in a Coal Camp (here, next to this marker); Labor Strikes and Conflicts (here, next to this marker); The White Oak Valley (a few steps from this marker); Oakwood Mine Complex (approx. 1.4 miles away); Oak Hill Railroad Depot (approx. 1.6 miles away); Glen Jean Athletic Club (approx. 2.2 miles away); DuBois High School (approx. 4.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Whipple Junction.
More about this marker. This interpretive panel has six illustrations. On the left side are portraits of Samuel Dixon and Justus Collins. Bottom right is a photograph of a White Oak Railway locomotive and tender which is captioned, “Dixon also owned railroads, including the White Oak Railroad, and newspapers in Charleston, Fayetteville and Beckley. On the right is a reproduction of a stock certificate for 100 shares of The New River Compan; a label reading “Coal contained in this car is White Oak Smokeless Coal, about a bushel of ash per ton, produced and prepared by The New River Company, Mount Hope, Fayette Co., W. Va.”; and a contemporary color photograph of “The Collins House in Bramwell, owned by Jarius Collins, brother of Justus Collins, and first accountant for the Collins Colliery in Whipple.
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia entry for Samuel Dixon. Excerpt:
Samuel Dixon (1856–1934) was an industrialist and politician in West Virginia. Dixon was among the powerful and wealthy men who helped develop southern West Virginia's bituminous coal bearing-region during the late 19th and early 20th century.
(Submitted on October 2, 2019.) 

2. December 14, 1857: Coal Operator Justus Collins Born in Alabama. WV Public Broadcasting article. Excerpt:
He’s often remembered as one of the most disliked coal industry officials of his era—both by miners and by fellow coal operators. Collins eventually left the coalfields, moving first to Charleston and then to Cincinnati. Justus Collins died in 1934 at age 76.
(Submitted on October 2, 2019.) 
Categories. Industry & CommerceLabor UnionsNatural Resources

More. Search the internet for The Coal Barons.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 3, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 2, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 60 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on October 2, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   2, 3. submitted on September 26, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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