Photo, Print, Drawing Continuous belt feeder running through Montcoal, West Virginia

About this Item

Continuous belt feeder running through Montcoal, West Virginia
Contributor Names
Eiler, Lyntha Scott (Photographer)
Created / Published
January 31, 1996
Subject Headings
-  Cultural landmarks
-  Coal camps
-  Winter
-  January
-  Industrial landscape
-  Photographs
-  Ethnography
-  West Virginia -- Raleigh County -- Montcoal
-  "One of the earliest coal camps on Coal River was established at Montcoal, shown on early maps as "Hecla." In the 1930s the Colcord Coal Company operated mines at Montcoal. In the 1930s, John L. Lewis came to Montcoal to organize the union, and had to stand, as Mae Bongalis remembers it, on the railroad tracks, because Colcord would not allow him on the property. Mae Bongalis, who grew up in a coal camp on Montcoal Mountain, told of working in the mines as a young girl, and of riding the incline down the mountain and back in order to do business in the valley. The form of the company town was ubiquitous throughout the coalfields, and expressed the social vision of the men who were reshaping the region's economy. The companies provided housing for miners and their families, docking the rent from their paychecks. Food and other necessities were sold at the company store, often in exchange for "scrip," a form of compensation to miners redeemable only at the company store, which many recall charged higher prices than other local retailers. Many companies also built churches, parks, ball fields, and movie theaters.
-  The towns were usually segregated by race and ethnicity, with the more luxurious homes of superintendents and doctors placed above the town. In Montcoal, the superintendent and doctor lived across the river on "Cigar Hill" (45-8). Armco Steel Corporation took over the lease to Montcoal in the 1950s and retained it into the mid-1980s. When Armco left, tenants had an option to buy the houses, but not the land, which the Peabody Coal Corporation leased for a few years, after which the A.T. Massey Coal Company acquired the lease. In the 1990s, John Flynn rented a house in Montcoal, where he coordinated the Appalachia Forest Action Project. During our field project, the Upper Big Branch Mine at Montcoal, a longwall mine, was operated by Performance Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey Coal."
35 mm Color Slide
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1999/008: CRF-LE-C063-05
Source Collection
Coal River Folklife Collection (AFC 1999/008)
American Folklife Center
Digital Id
Online Format

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Credit line

Coal River Folklife Project collection (AFC 1999/008), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

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Chicago citation style:

Eiler, Lyntha Scott. Continuous belt feeder running through Montcoal, West Virginia. Montcoal Raleigh County West Virginia, 1996. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed September 22, 2017.)

APA citation style:

Eiler, L. S. (1996) Continuous belt feeder running through Montcoal, West Virginia. Montcoal Raleigh County West Virginia, 1996. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Eiler, Lyntha Scott. Continuous belt feeder running through Montcoal, West Virginia. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.