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

Community Life in a Coal Camp

Whipple

 

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

 
Community Life in a Coal Camp Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 14, 2019
1. Community Life in a Coal Camp Marker
Inscription.  Coal companies often paid miners in scrip, a form of private money, each coal company issuing their own scrip. So that it would not be confused with American currency, most of the coins had some sort of hole in the middle. Company allowed miners to “cut” or “draw” scrip against completed work. Often, come payday, a miner would be “scrip bound,” meaning he owned his entire paycheck to the company and had to start again in debt. Local businesses independent of the coal company did take scrip, but usually at less than face value.

In many coal camps, there were cash prizes for the best flower gardens, but vegetable gardens were illegal. Why? Vegetable gardens fed families during strikes, something mining companies wanted to avoid at all costs. Many miners wives planted beautiful flower gardens by the house but also secretly planted vegetables in the nearby woods.

Church was an important part of the social fabric of a coal camp. There was a Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Catholic Church, each one identified on its own hill—Methodist Church Hill, Prestbyterian Church Hill and so on. Coal miners worked Monday through Saturday and were expected to be in church on Sunday.

The
Whipple National Coal Heritage Area Interpretive Site image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 14, 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 second from the left, presenting at an angle.
baseball diamond for the towns in the valley was in Whipple, but the Rialto Opera House and Movie Theatre, which served the valley, was in Scarbro. In fact, the town of Scarbro outgrew other camps. Until 1930 it was an incorporated town with a jail, city hall, town marshal, brick yard, Chinese laundry and bottling company.

Coalfield baseball was very popular. Every coal camp had its own baseball team and competition was fierce. Miners who could play baseball were recruited and given work assignments above ground. There was a ballgame every Sunday in season and large crowds would gather to cheer for the home team. Some players even made it to the major leagues. Behind the Whipple Company Store was Ballpark Hill, the one ballpark for all five coal camps. Major league teams often played exhibition games in Southern West Virginia after their season was complete. In fact, the Cincinnati Reds played Scarbro on October 10, 1908.

“Not a day went by that you weren’t in the company store.”Jane Nicholls Burke, daughter of Superintendent of Oakwood and Whipple.
The company store was the hub of the coal camp. Not only was it a commercial center, selling everything from automobiles to zippers, it was the focus of social life and contained the post office, bank, doctor’s office and undertaker. The Whipple Company Store even had a ballroom upstairs for the elite of the community.
 
Location.
Whipple Company Store No. 4 image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 14, 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.”
37° 57.507′ 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 (Local Route 1/5), on the right when traveling east on Okey L Patterson Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7485 Okey L Patteson Rd, Scarbro WV 25917, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Coal Barons (here, next to this marker); Disaster Underground (here, next to this marker); Labor Strikes and Conflicts (here, next to this marker); The White Oak Valley (here, next to 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 seven illustrations. Clockwise from upper left, these are the captions: “Scrip from the New River colliery.” The Whipple Company Store. “ Players on the Scarbro team, circa 1906.” “Six young ball players in Nallen, West Virginia.” “The Rialto Theatre.” “Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Whipple, 2012.” “Woman in garden, circa 1904.”
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceLabor UnionsNatural Resources
 
Coal Heritage Trail Map and Guide image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 14, 2019
4. Coal Heritage Trail Map and Guide
Beside this interpretive panel is a smaller panel showing a map of the Coal Heritage Trail and a brief description of each stop.
 

More. Search the internet for Community Life in a Coal Camp.
 
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 64 times since then and 9 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.   4. submitted on October 2, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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