By Katherine Skeldon
July 19, 2021 - The Beckley Parks and Recreation and the Raleigh County Historical Society not only commemorated a special locomotive that has served as a staple to the New River Park and the Beckley Exhibition Coal for generations, but they also honored a very special woman through a unique historical portrayal.
“Ruby Bradley was a West Virginia girl, she grew up in Roane County West Virginia and she first became a school teacher then she set her sights on being an army nurse,” says Becky Park, portraying the role of Ruby Bradley. “In 1941 she was serving in a very luxurious setting in the Philipines when the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor.”
The Colonel Ruby Bradley enactment, played by Becky Park, was only one of the two-part historical events taking place at the Exhibition Coal Mine’s Pemberton Coal Town Church, the other being the dedication of “The Dinky.”
“It just truly rounds out the coal heritage experience here at the Exhibition Coal Mine and it had been given as a gift years ago to the City of Beckley by the Crab Orchard Coal Mining Company,” Leslie Baker, director of Parks and Rec. for the City of Beckley says. “So, it was something very much worth saving as a big part of that heritage, and we were really glad to move it from the New River Park down to the Exhibition Coal Mine where it needed to be all along.”
And both received the recognition they deserved, as Colonel Ruby Bradley’s nearly 30-year run leading the U.S Army nurses during World War II and Korea was honored through the History Alive! enactment and The Dinky’s nearly 58-year role serving as the City of Beckley’s beloved locomotive was honored through a marker dedication.
“I’m always inspired to learn more about West Virginians and then The Dinky train is such a big part of the history of Beckley and Raleigh County.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about these History Alive! presentations, you can call The West Virginia Humanities Council at (304)346-8500, and you can visit beckley.org to find out more about the Exhibition Coal Mine and everything they do there.