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

Thomas in Tucker County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

Exploring the Coketon Industrial Site / West Virginia Coal

 
 
Exploring the Coketon Industrial Site side of the marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
1. Exploring the Coketon Industrial Site side of the marker
Inscription.  
Exploring the Coketon Industrial Site

More than 100 years ago, massive steam engines pulling tons of coal-filled cars roared along this busy railroad route. The trains connected the rich coal mines of West Virginia to hungry steel mills in the region.

Imagine the Sound of Trains…
To view the quiet remains of this region's 19th century coal industry, follow this old railroad bed 1.5 miles through the small communities of Coketon and Douglas. Along the way, careful observers can spot old mine entrances, miner's houses, and even the mining company store.

Also visible are the ruins of hundreds of round, beehive-shaped brick kilns where workers burned hot fires night and day. Their goal: to "cook" raw coal down into a more valuable, hotter-burning fuel known as coke.

Beyond the Coketon Industrial Site, the abandoned railroad bed extends westward through Blackwater Canyon to Hendricks and on to Parsons and Elkins.

West Virginia Coal

"This is the most remarkable coal region so far discovered in this or any other country…"
West Virginia Coal Marker side of the marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
2. West Virginia Coal Marker side of the marker
Coal inspector for West Virginia Central & Pittsburgh Railway Company, 1885.


Fueling America's Industrialization
By 1890, King Coal ruled the North Fork of Blackwater River near the towns of Thomas and Davis. From the railway yards of Chicago to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the American economy demanded coal. Coal, and the coke derived from it, fueled the foundries that made the steel that built America's industrial and transportation infrastructure. The mining towns of Thomas, Coketon, and Douglas grew and prospered as did the American economy.

Here in Thomas and Coketon, thousands of people spent their lives digging rich coal veins deep in the mines, loading tons of coal into railroad cars, laying bricks into beehive-shaped coke ovens, and tending the coke-oven fires. By 1906, the mines employed 1,300 men. By 1911, there were 12 active mines; 1,235 coke ovens; and 2,500 people living and working in this narrow valley.
 
Erected by Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation; Division of Highways, West Virginia Department of Transportation.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars.
 
Location. 39° 
The side of the display facing the river image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
3. The side of the display facing the river
8.946′ N, 79° 29.944′ W. Marker is in Thomas, West Virginia, in Tucker County. Marker is on Blackwater Canyon Trail, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 154 Appalachian Highway, Thomas WV 26292, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Story of a River / Life in a Coal Mining Town (here, next to this marker); Historic Thomas and the Coketon Industrial Complex / News Flash! (here, next to this marker); Thomas, Yesterday and Today (within shouting distance of this marker); "All that Humanity Could Desire…" (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas, West Virginia Mine Disaster Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Dwellings and Design (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Thomas Underground (about 400 feet away); A Lesson in Resourcefulness (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Thomas.
 
The side of the display facing the City of Thomas image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
4. The side of the display facing the City of Thomas
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 22 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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Jan. 16, 2021