A Dunbar Poem, written by Rebekah Trinkle, a former Dunbar resident, is her story of what it was like growing up in a coal camp.
|Coal mining has been critical to
the economies of West Virginia, Southwest, Virginia, and Easter Kentucky
since the 1800's. For many years coal mining was a very labor
intensive operation. In order to get and to keep a reliable labor
source, coal mine operators frequently built housing communities near the
mine. The houses, often built to house two families, were provided
to the employees at little or no rent. Since mines were often in
remote areas it was also necessary to provide other services to the
community. The mine operators would usually build a general store, a
church, schools, and, sometimes, a hotel and a movie theater. These
self-sufficient communities came to be known as "coal camps,"
and the general store became the "Company Store." In
addition, the mine operator would hire a doctor, a minister, and a
policeman for the community. The doctor and church were supported by
small payroll deductions for each employee.
The purpose of this web site is to document and to provide some insight into coal camp life. The information presented here pertains to my boyhood home of Dunbar, Virginia. Dunbar is located in Wise County in South West Virginia. This community is no longer owned by a coal company. The houses were sold to the employees in the early 1960's. Dunbar still exists. It population of less than 100 persons is made up primarily of retired coal company employees.
Most of the photographs and information presented here pertains to my family simply because that was the easiest to get. I hope to broaden the scope of this site as more information becomes available.
In anyone has pictures or information that you would like to share please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.