Gary Hollow by Alex Schust A history of the largest coal operation in the world
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Gary Hollow by Alex Schust A history of the largest coal operation in the world
Gary Hollow by Alex P Schust A history of the largest coal operation in the world
Table of Contents
Part 1 - Before the Land Companies
Chapter 1 - The Indian Lands3
Chapter 2 - The Land Companies and the Indians7
Chapter 3 - The Indians and the Early Settlers9
Chapter 4 - The Land Speculators 19
Chapter 5 - Gary Hollow(s) in the Years 1814 -190223
Part 2 - United States Coal & Coke Company
Chapter 6 - The Discovery of Coal and the Pocahontas Coal Field33
Chapter 7 - 50,000 Acres of Coal39
Chapter 8 - United States Coal & Coke Company's Corporate Life43
Chapter 9 - Company Workers49
Chapter 10 - Prelude to Unionization73
Chapter 11 - United Mine Workers87
Chapter 12 - Safety the First Consideration 99
Chapter 13 - Work Years103
Part 3 - The Railroad
Chapter 14 - Norfolk & Western Tug Fork Branch 131
Part 4 - Gary as the Corporation Community
Chapter 15 - In the Beginning 147
Chapter 16 - A Community of Immigrants153
Chapter 17 - Housing157
Chapter 18 - Water and Sewage173
Chapter 19 - Electricity 175
Chapter 20 - Medical Services 185
Chapter 21 - Company Stores and Other Shopping Places195
Chapter 22 - Adkin District Schools219
Chapter 23 - Churches237
Chapter 24 - Recreation251
Chapter 25 - Transportation System267
Chapter 26 - Plant Security 271
Chapter 27 - Cemeteries 273
Chapter 28 - Incorporation275
Part 5 - The Communities of Gary Hollow and Adkin District
Chapter 29 - Tug Fork Branch - Havaco to Gary Havaco 281
Talman Village 285
Chapter 30 - Tug Fork Branch - Venus to Thorpe
Negro Country Club . 357
Chapter 31 - Tug Fork Branch - Black Wolf to Tug
The Country Club 361
Chapter 32 - North Fork of Tug Fork Branch
Chapter 33 - South Fork of Tug Fork Branch
Chapter 34 - Sand Lick Branch - Gary to Filbert
Sand Lick Sportsman's Club445
Part 6 - Memories of Coal Camp Life
Chapter 35 - The Typical Community 449
Chapter 36 - A Rhythm of Life451
Chapter 37 - Some Milestones Along the Way467
Notes on the Author474
Driving though the valleys that make up Gary Hollow I clearly see what the area is like in 2005, but I remember what it was like when I grew up there between 1945 and 1963. I hear the sounds of yesterday echoing in its hollows. Driving to Filbert, I hear the sounds of hauling coal from the mines, bells and whistles of steam locomotives on their daily trip from the mine tipple to Wilcoe yard, laughter on summer nights and Sunday night singing from the Little Zion United Holy Church at the southern edge of Filbert. We all have our memories of those communities we grew up in and which
are now slowly disappearing. We can see what is, while we remember what was. Some things we can only imagine, because none of us were there when United States Coal & Coke (USC&C) Company starting shaping Gary Hollow in 1902. Gary Hollow's best years are behind it, but even in its twilight if you look hard you can see the shadows of what used to be. And when the wind's right you hear the whispers of yesterday on the summer breeze or flying skyward on the curling smoke of a coal fire in the late autumn.
Even with the shadows and whispers left behind by thousands of coal miners and their families, you have to remember that the coal miners of USC&C and other mines were not the first people to settle in Gary's Hollows.
The banks of Tug Fork and Sand Lick Creek were the hunting grounds of the Shawnee and Cherokee Indians. The rivers and creeks were written about in 1750 as in the coal lands. The mountain hollows saw Indian raiding parties and were the trails of Indian captives. Land speculators bought the entirety of McDowell County for about 2 cents an acre and lost nearly all of it to back taxes. Civil War raiders of the North and South used the Abbs Valley and Tug River Turnpike to attack each other. And when the Indians were defeated, the land reclaimed by Virginia for back taxes, the Civil War was over, the pioneers pushed the frontier further west by settling along the Tug Fork. For nearly 50 years the area along the Tug Fork from present day Havaco to Anawalt, Jenkinjones, Munson and Filbert was farmed by a group of hardy individuals. That changed within the space of a few months when Illinois Steel leased 50,000 acres from the Pocahontas Coal and Coke Company in 1901 and USC&C built what was described as the largest coal operation in the world. In less then 100 years, it was nearly all gone.
I wrote this book to capture those memories before they were gone forever. The book started to be about Gary Hollow, but became a book of Adkin District as I followed the Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W) Tug Fork Branch from its junction at Tug Tower in Welch to its end points at Anawalt, Jenkinjones, Munson and Filbert. At one time all of the students including those at Havaco went to Adkin District High School or Gary District High School located at Gary. Adkin District later became Gary High School.
The book is about the communities, their coal mines, and the coal companies more so than about the people who lived and worked in the communities. It is about USC&C building a corporate community in Gary's Hollows for the purpose of mining the coal. It is written from a readers' perspective rather than a researcher's perspective. My purpose is two fold. First, I wanted to capture the essence of the history of Adkin District in a single volume rather then let the history languish in unpublished notes, multiple books and newspaper articles with only parts of the story and a few fading memories.
Second, I wanted the story of Gary to be documented in some fashion before all of its history disappears.
The book was developed from corporation records and county records in the McDowell County court house, newspaper articles, notes on Gary and other communities located at the Eastern Regional Coal Archives (ERCA) and other available references. ERCA managed to save some of the USC&C records, payroll books and drawings, but in the main, United States Coal and Coke Company records were not available or have been long since destroyed.
The book is written in six parts to capture the different facets of the history. As an example, the company store is a story within itself even though every community had a company store, so the story is told in the Part 4 on Gary as a corporation community rather then in Part 5 on the communities.
There are no claims that this is a complete history, but only that it is a representative history presenting the communities and the coal operations as they existed at different points in time. It is factual book even though it is without footnotes. Some of the pictures used are not of the best quality, but I chose to use them because they illustrated the story I wanted to tell.
While I have written about all of Adkin District, in the main, the book is about Gary Hollow and the United States Coal & Coke Company's operations. After all, what was at one time the largest coal operation in the world deserves to have its story told.
Harwood, Maryland 2005
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