VIRGINIA CITY – Early SWVA Boom Town

© Jerry F. Couch

Virgnia City was among the early coal camps in Southwest Virginia.  Its prosperity was made possible by several massive seams of coal, miners to dig the coal, and the Clinch Valley Division of the Norfolk & Western Railway to haul the coal away.  In the camp’s heyday, it featured a school, post office, church, commissary, and number of company houses. 

Initially, the camp was expected to equal or exceed the Clinchfield Coal Corporation’s mining operations at Dante.  That did not happen, but several small operators (through mineral leases) continued to mine coal at Virginia City for many years. 

Among those operators were brothers Sam and Roy McReynolds.  The pictures you see here were shared by Sam’s son Larry, and are used with his permission.  All of them were taken around 1950.

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Larry McRehnolds, age two, with his uncle, Roy McReynolds.  Roy is emptying a loaded coal cart into the chute of a gravity-fed tipple.
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Larry McReynolds, enjoying a ride in the coal cart courtesy of his uncle, Roy McReynolds -and a hard-working team of mules.   The mules were well-tended because profitable operation of the mine depended upon their labor.  The location is the Widow Kennedy Mine in Caldonia Hollow.
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Roy McReynolds – a miner at work ca. 1950.  Notice his hat and lamp.
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H. F. Couch at right (uncle of Sam McReynold’s wife, Dorothy) and Roy McReynolds.  Those big lumps of coal delivered high BTU’s for home heating.

 

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This house was built by James Fletcher McReynolds and his wife Ellen Marshall McReynolds in Virginia City around 1916.  It later became the home of James’ son Sam and his wife, Dorothy.  The house was demolished in the early 1950’s and replaced by the home Sam and Dorothy occupied until their deaths.
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Sam McReynolds (left) and Ed Wright loading coal the hard way.  Could you do this type of work day after day, all day long in dangerous conditions?  You could and you would if your family’s security depended upon it.  

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