Last updated: August 06. 2014 3:59PM - 178 Views

A new book by Jay Chatman recounts the history of coal and rail in McDowell County.
A new book by Jay Chatman recounts the history of coal and rail in McDowell County.
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McDowell County Coal and Rail is the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History Series and is set to release on August 11, 2014. The book by local author Jay Chatman uses vintage images and postcards to illustrate the history of the county.


Coal was discovered in McDowell County, located in the Billion Dollar Coalfield of southern West Virginia, in 1748, but it was not explored or mined until the early 1800s. Mill Creek Coal & Coke Company shipped the first railroad car of coal in March 1883 via the Norfolk & Western Railway.


By the early 1900s, hundreds of mining companies dotted the county’s landscape. The coal from McDowell County fueled the nation’s home heating and steelmaking businesses and both world wars. As the coal industry developed, the local population grew; by 1950, the county had grown from a few hundred people to more than 100,000. The postcard images in this book show early coal mining and how it progressed throughout the years.


Highlights of McDowell County Coal and Rail include:


•Tells the story of how the Industrial Revolution came to McDowell County.


•Shows how the infrastructure was built from a wilderness to a thriving metropolis.


•Illustrates how the county became self-sufficient with all of the economic developments.


Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online.


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