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Pocahontas Coal Fields and the First Mines in Mercer County, West Virginia



May 6, 2022 - Before continuing with our look at the Pocahontas coalfields, courtesy of Corbet L. Helmick’s article in the 1984 edition of the Mercer County Historical Society’s “History of Mercer County,” I must say that the articles on Brock’s Restaurant have drawn a great deal of interest.

There was a great deal of fortunate timing where the Pocahontas coalfields were concerned. The rapid expansion of American industry created a demand for steam coal and coke for steelmaking and the coal from the Pocahontas coalfields was top quality steam and metallurgical coal.

The first mine opened in the coalfields was at Pocahontas, Va, by the Southwest Virginia Improvement Company. It shipped the first railroad car of coal to Norfolk, Va., on March 17, 1883 over the Norfolk and Western Railroad

SVIC later became Pocahontas Fuel Company which later became Consolidation Coal Company a.k.a. Consol. As of 1984, it was owned by Continental Oil Company which was owned by DuPont,

In 1884, Capt. J.L. Beury and John Cooper organized the Mill Creek Coal and Coke Company. They obtained the first lease for coal mining in Mercer County, the second overall from the Flat Top Land Association.

The mine, Mercer County’s first, was located on Mill Creek near Coopers. In 1884, it shipped 2,368 tons of coal.

Coal mining in Mercer County developed rapidly along the creeks flowing southeast into the Bluestone River including Mill Creek, Simmons Creek, Flipping Creek, Crane Creek and Widemouth Creek, There was easy access to the coal from the outcrop.