Miscellaneous Coal Mine Knowledge

Odds and ends about life in the Appalachian coal mines.

  • In 1897, miners in Appalachian regions earned around .30 per ton.
  • Appalachian coal fields are reported to have given work to people from 30 foreign countries.
  • Wise County, Virginia, boasted around 4400 coke ovens in use as far back as 1908. The process sent thick black smoke and sulphurous fumes into the area.
  • Coal companies often hired new doctors straight from medical school to run the company hospital. It was a steady job with a steady salary for doctors and the only source of medical treatment for miners and their families. Funds for this practice were deducted from miners’ pay.
  • Companies who had a high interest in coke ovens often hired African-American workers to operate the ovens.s. They believed that, due to the darker pigmentation of their skin, they could work in higher temperatures more efficiently and tolerably than their white counterparts.
  • Child labor was common in coal fields. The most common positions for children involved sorting coal or working as “trapper boys” who opened ventilation doors so mining carts could go through. This practice ended when Congress enacted labor laws requiring children be 16 to work.

6 thoughts on “Miscellaneous Coal Mine Knowledge

  • April 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm
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    Quite informative, Laura. Thanks for sharing. I have also read many stories alluding to paranormal activity relating to coal mines throughout the south. Perhaps you can follow up with some material on that.

    Reply
    • April 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm
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      Hi, Mark! Yes, I’m going to add a series of articles dealing with coal mines and the culture surrounding it. Good to hear from you.

      Reply
      • April 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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        Great! I look forward to it. Your posts are always well-written and very engaging, as they offer both insight and a sense of intrigue. I am continuously riveted!

        What is it about coal mines that drew your interest to them, at least as far as is concerned with showcasing them on a site about the paranormal?

        I am sorry I haven’t communicated in a while, as I have been busy. I just started as both an editor and translator for a publishing company, and that appears ongoing, along with the writing.

        How have you been?

        Reply
        • April 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm
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          Hi! I’ve been busy, too…lol. I’m getting ready to release a non-fiction on the bizarre history of my region.

          I live in coal mine country (Southwestern Virginia) so it’s always been there. I didn’t really have an interest in it until Silent Hill came out, personally. They set the movie in an old mining town in West Virginia, but it was based on Centrilia, PA, so that started my real interest in it. Even in this area, anything to do with mining tends to be so dramatized, it’s cliche, or just the same things stated over and over and over. When you look into it, though, it was a fascinating culture. I think the most fascinating elements are the ones most often ignored.

          Reply
          • April 24, 2012 at 12:17 pm
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            This sounds fascinating. I will look for the book. What kind of research did you do for it? I am also working on a few non-fiction projects, but I am not presently able to travel to conduct field research as necessary. I hope I will soon–I am also excited about visiting a subject of interest, which is crucial if one is to write extensively on it. I congratulate on the achievement.

            As for living in a location with a bizarre history, that must not only make research easier but also fun.

          • April 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm
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            I am an avid researcher. I spend as much time in old books and newspapers as I do writing…lol. There’s so much to explore, it’s mind-boggling. I’m not a traveler, I can’t, I have an autistic son.

            I think it’s best to write where you live or where you can easily access. It’s very hard to invest in travel expenses and devote that much time to travel, and not even know if you’re going to break even or not when you do get it published. Of course, it’s something else if you’re writing about a place you regularly go to and don’t have to worry about any of that.

            Not to mention, it can be difficult to get “locals” to open up to strangers, as opposed to those in your area. One BIG problem I’ve seen, for “out-of-towners” writing about your area, is they seldom get the most important points. I live in an area where a couple of authors have done that, they aren’t actually from here, but breeze in to write a book and move on when they’ve sold what they wanted. It’s very easy to make people resentful. The worst thing is to pretend to be an expert on the area when you’ve only spoken with a few people.

            I surprised everyone…lol. I didn’t tell anyone I was working on it until it was almost finished. But, you know, every area, I don’t care where it is, has the most fascinating folklore and heritage. I’ve found mentions of creatures, killers, ghosts, ufos, and a host of other lore in just about every part of America. I think if this non-fic does good, I’m going to branch out into other states that I have info on. I don’t think there’s an area in existence that doesn’t have some bizarre history. It’s just a matter of digging for it.

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