Category Archives: Mines

Melcenia Fields; the Hermit of Beury

When Melcenia Fields failed to retrieve her groceries, railroad workers knew something was wrong. Fields, inexplicably to all but herself, lived in the ruins of Beury, WV, one of dozens of company towns in the New River Gorge that residents completely abandoned when the adjacent coal seams were mined out. Fields lived there alone for … Continue reading

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Laurel Run, Pennsylvania; Fire beneath the Mountain

A fire smolders in an abandoned coal mine deep underground. Gases seep to the surface through fissures in the earth. A blue-collar Pennsylvania town vaporizes, chased away by the blaze. But this is not Centralia, where subterranean seams of anthracite have been burning since 1962. No, this is Laurel Run, a town done in by a … Continue reading

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Iron Furnaces in a National Forest; Deceptively Beautiful Ruins

Virginia’s iron industry was neither the first nor the largest in early America–those distinctions belong to Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. But the demand for day-to-day items such as nails and barrel staves and, later, armaments for the Confederacy, meant that some hundred-plus stone furnaces once graced the Old Dominion. Most are long gone, their cut stone … Continue reading

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Centralia, Pennsylvania; A Time Capsule Left Behind

Centralia, Pennsylvania is readying for its swan song. The cursed borough’s dramatic saga is coming to a close and media giants no longer come calling as they once did. But time’s approaching for an event that’ll be a measure of how deep a meaning the lost town has in the hearts of the people forced … Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries, Ghost towns, Industry, Mines | 46 Comments

Fountain Cave; A Window to Different Worlds

You can almost forgive the early visitors for their ignorance. What they took, what they left behind, seems quaint and antiquated. The damage they did, however, was permanent and marred irreplaceable treasures. Now their harmful handiwork serves as an example of the lasting damage done by the careless hand of man. I had occasion recently … Continue reading

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The Richmond Coal Basin, Part II – A Dear Price for Energy

On the forest floor behind a country churchyard near the forgotten village of Winterpock, Virginia yawn two deep holes. One is covered with a square frame of concrete and a metal grate. The bottom is underneath somewhere, but it’s concealed by the tapering shadow the shaft’s walls cast. The other pit is open and you … Continue reading

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The Richmond Coal Basin, Part I; Dover’s Little Pits and the Beginning of a Burning Legacy

Drive west on Virginia State Route 6 from Richmond and you’ll come to the fringes of suburbia where the signs announcing new subdivisions end and the scenery has blended into countryside. Somewhere near here, more than 300 years ago, a French Huguenot settler made a discovery that’s been largely forgotten today–though the traces of that … Continue reading

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Eastern Gold, Part II – Great Falls, Maryland and a Road Paved with Gold

No telling how many would-be immigrants to the United States actually believed the mantra that the streets of this prosperous land were paved with gold. What few people realize, however, is that there’s a spot just outside Washington D.C. where that spellbinding dream–a golden road–was literally the case. Maryland is the northern tip of a … Continue reading

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Eastern Gold, Part I–The Goodwin Gold Mine and Virginia’s Shining Past

If you had to guess the origin of the gold that adorns us, Virginia might be one of the last places that comes to mind. Fact is, however, there’s a chance–albeit a small one–your jewelry once resided deep in the bedrock of the Old Dominion. There were once hundreds of gold mines stretching from Maryland … Continue reading

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