WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – Coal mining has been a central backbone of West Virginia since the early 1800’s, along with millions of miners who dedicated their lives to the industry at its very inception.
Dec. 6 is now set aside as National Miner’s Day, a day to remember, honor, and breathe life into its troubled, yet prosperous past, as well as all the miners who made such history happen.
“We are a national coal heritage area and we were designated by Congress as such an area because the overall significance of the story that came out of Southern West Virginia, because of the work that miners did that fueled the Industrial Revolution, and still today, creating the energy that we all use every day,” say Christy Bailey, Executive Director of the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.
The day commemorates two mines in particular–the No. 6 and No. 8 mines in Monongah, which were home to the worst mining explosion in American history when 362 miners never made it out.
Unfortunately, it’s a story that’s been repeated throughout the state’s past.
“A couple that I can think of were the Eccles mine disaster, which there were actually two disasters in Eccles, and then there was another one over at Leland, which is near Prince in Fayette County, and it was never even recognized,” says Bailey.
“I think what it really points out is what a dangerous occupation it is, it is inherently dangerous, but the other thing you have to think about is the improvements in mine safety that have happened over the years.”
Coal mining, along with the hard-working miners making up the industry, continues to be a big part of West Virginia culture today, through the mines that are still in operation as well as those and the former thriving towns that were left behind from another era.
The National Coal Heritage Authority encourages you to visit their website for more information about the history of coal mining in the mountain state.