Uncle Bob's Travels

Places I've hung out in, sometimes briefly.

Archive for the tag “coal town”

Black Joe


This is in Harlan County KY, near Harlan.  From the research I’ve done on this, nobody seems to know how this community got its name.  Two coal companies headquartered here: Harlan Fox Coal/Mining Company 1918-1932 and JB Blue Gem Coal Company 1920-22.  The Post Office was named “Black Joe”, but the railroad (L&N) referred to the station here as “Woods Station”.

Grays Knob KY Post Office

Grays Knob is south of Harlan on 72.  This modest post office is on Judy Drive.  Grays Knob is an old coal town remade into quite a fast food and shopping center.  Wiki says it’s named after a local hill…duh.  The town gained a  post office in 1911.


McRoberts Elementary School

McRoberts Community, outside Jenkins KY, has been around since 1912 or so.  It was a Consolidated Coal town.  The original McRoberts Elementary came into being around a century ago.  This incarnation, as such, was closed last year, according to a news story on a local TV station.


Stonega VA

As we travel around in coal country, we see a lot of signs protesting official attitudes toward coal.  Coal’s getting a bad rap and is being pounded by abundant (for now) natural gas.  Stonega was a coal town, just up from Appalachia.  This sign says it all:

Pennington Gap VA

Another Southwest Virginia town that went down with the coal business.  It was a lively place in the day, according to a person I know who lived there then.  There’s not much on it in the wiki.  Here’s a little more information:

This sign stands near where the old train depot was located, along with an ice house and some other buildings.  Just to the north of this sign was a 6-story hotel that was the place to stay.  It burned in the 70s, I’m told.  Here’s a look at the downtown:



Trammel VA

Trammel, in Dickenson County, wasn’t there when the Clinchfield railroad first cut its way up to Elkhorn City, but it was certainly there on February 9, 1915, when George Carter, the man who ran the Clinchfield Railroad, came to Trammel to drive in the last spike to complete the line from Elkhorn City down to Spartanburg SC (this according to James Goforth in the book “Building the Clinchfield”).  The rail line takes a westerly turn at Trammel and heads into the still-active Sandy Ridge tunnel.  If you’re driving on 63, heading east from Dante, you’ll curve more northerly at Hazel, then, a few miles on, you’ll see this sign:

And you’ve come to Trammel, off to the left.  Here’s a look down the main street:

In 1986, the company that owned the town gave the people living here a choice: buy your home or we’ll auction it off to the highest bidder.  Most of the people were able to scrape together the money to buy their homes, but, alas, some were out in the street at the end of the day.  Someone from out of town bought the old company store.  They sure did a great job with it:

Every time we come through, we expect to see it collapsed.  The road to the right leads up to a strip mine.  The work goes on.

Jewell Ridge, Virginia

The sign says it all.  If you can find it, that is.  Lee and I think that, generally speaking, the people who live up here on Jewell Ridge figure if you need to be here, you already know the way, because there’s not a sign anywhere on Hwy. 67, the route that leads past the road heading up the ridge.   The town is over a hundred years old and was started either by George Carter (coalcampusa.com) or by George St. Clair and Thomas M. Righter (jewellridgeva.com).  Either way, it’s unusual in that the town was deliberately placed high above the coal operations, so it was spared some of the tribulations suffered by towns down in the valleys.

This is looking more or less east down the main street.

This is the original store and office.  The far door now opens into a library.
It’s a pleasant town to drive through, but not a store or restaurant to be seen.

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