Thomas in Tucker County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
Historic Thomas and the Coketon Industrial Complex / News Flash!
Past and Present Co-Exist Easily
Recognized today as the gateway to the historical and recreational resources of the Blackwater River region, Thomas offers a unique glimpse into the living history of West Virginia's coal-mining industry.
Today, contemporary businesses and cultural activities fill attractive 19th century buildings along Front Street — just like those that made Thomas a vibrant town more than 100 years before.
A short walk away, the intriguing remains of the Coketon Industrial Complex attract historians and tourists alike. Here, the Davis Coal & Coke Company and its subsidiaries ran a huge industrial operation — one of the biggest mining and coal processing operations in the U.S. from the years 1900 to 1910.
Technology Changes, Beehive Ovens Obsolete!
With more than 1,200 heavy beehive ovens producing tons of coke in 1912, the Davis Coal & Coke Company was not ready for a big shift in coking technology.
But ready or not, the coking industry
By 1915, 900 of the area's 1,235 coke ovens were closed. Mines were sealed, and the Davis Coal & Coke Company's fortunes were in decline. Despite a brief upward swing during World War I (1914-1918), only 26 local ovens were still producing coke by 1923.
Hundreds of families left Thomas seeking jobs elsewhere. From 2,500 residents in 1910, the area's population has dwindled to less than 500 today. If you want to learn more about the coke production and see remains of the industrial site, travel down the trail.
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 this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1900.
Location. 39° 8.945′ N, 79° 29.945′ W. Marker is in Thomas, West Virginia, in Tucker County. Marker is on Blackwater Canyon Trail, on 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. Exploring the Coketon Industrial Site / West Virginia Coal (here, next to this marker); The Story of a River / Life in a Coal Mining Town (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.
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 58 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.