Ashland Coal & Coke Company Early History




Above: pictured is the original company store as it appeared in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The cost of the entire structure was between twelve and thirteen thousand dollars. It also served as a social hall and inn. The building was destroyed by fire in 1943. The store was then moved to the present day location.

The company store was open to all miners and their families. Not only did these stores offer general grocery items, they also stocked a variety of other goods including clothing, toys, tools, shoes, fabric, ice cream, and fresh fruit.

Ashland is located along the North Fork of Elkhorn Creek, one of the most heavily developed coal regions in the Pocahontas field. At its height, the North Fork valley held an estimated ten thousand people, some of whom worked for the Ashland Coal & Coke Company.

The tipple of the company mine was demolished in the 1980s and all that remains, from its nearly one hundred years of operation, is the company store and a few company houses.

Like so many of the mining companies in the Pocahontas field, Ashland Coal & Coke Company was organized by men from the Pennsylvania anthracite region. Several of the original stockholders were from Ashland, Pennsylvania, and for this reason, the company, mine, settlement, and post office were give its name. Most of Ashland’s leading stockholders and officers retained their interests and residences in Pennsylvania and operated the mines at Ashland as absentees. The leading stockholder and first president of the company, W.J. Richards, remained in Schuylkill County, where he served as President of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company.

Ashland Coal & Coke was incorporated in 1892. A lease was obtained from the Flat Top Land Association on March 18, 1893, and the mine was opened with a wooden gravity-feed tipple to load the coal into hopper cars the Norfork and Western Railway. The mine was a simple drift, since the coal seam, Pocahontas No. 3, outcropped along the hillside at five feet, ten inches thick. The mine produced more than 30,000 tons of bituminous "smokeless" coal in 1894, its first full year of production. By 1935, total tonnage from the mine hit 4 million tons - all of it hand loaded. The coal seam played out in the late 1970's and the company ceased operations in 1980. The number 2 coal seam, located at the entrance to Ashland Resort was the last mine operated by Ashland Coal & Coke. I worked in this mine and was part of the team that shut the operations down.

Below you will find an original article from the Bluefield Daily Telegrah about the Ashland Company Store, a photo of the 1st President of Ashland Coal & Coke Company (W.J. Richards), a photo of a share of stock for Ashland Coal & Company, a photo of the Company Doctor Emanuel Torregrosa standing beside his car in 1917, a photo of old company scrip used to pay bills at the Company Store, and an old pic of purchases being made at the Company Store.

Please view the next page on my navigation bar for a complete history of Ashland Coal and Coke Company and associated companies, written in August 1968 by W. W. Walker, Chairman of the Board http://sites.google.com/site/mcdowellcountywvtourism/Home/history-of-ashland-coal-coke-company.

The document on the above page link is the only electronic file of this manuscript.



Historic Ashland Company Store

Discover the Historic Ashland Company Store - a West Virginia coal company store reborn to its original use, complete with old money vaults and tin tile ceilings! Relax in a handmade rocking chair, thumb through a novel set in the McDowell County Coal Fields or sample West Virginia jams, jellies, sauces and other gourmet treats. Browse through historic relics and memorabilia from the southern West Virginia Coalfields, including miner hats and dinner buckets, coal company script, and photos and letters from the period. Like the original coal company stores, we've got something for everyone - Hatfield McCoy Trail passes and logo merchandise, snacks, souvenirs and local crafts. Our store is a living museum of coal history, from out window displays of original merchandise and store records to our special exhibits of coal mining hats, lanterns, and dinner buckets. Check out the historic panoramic photos - and maybe identify a relative who once worked in the mines. See examples of coal company script from many different mines and perhaps even purchase a replica of the Ashland Coke and Coal Company script! McDowell County WV was once the largest producer of coal in the U.S. Visit us to discover the people and their history that made this possible.

Closed Until Further Notice


Ashland Coal and Coke Company Tipple

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