The Marytown coal mine opened in 1900 under the name Tug River Coal & Coke Company. Like most coal companies at that time, they immediately began construction on housing and a company store. Everything was generally built within close proximity of walking distance of the mine site and coal tipple.
With a company store that offered a wide range of merchandise besides groceries, the communities were pretty much self sufficient because they were so isolated from cities or towns by the rugged mountainous terrain.
Pictures 1 - 7 are courtesy of retired Air Force Colonel Jack Wilson, a Vietnam War veteran who flew missions over North Vietnam in his F 4 Phantom jet. Pictures 8 - 10 are courtesy of Marion Post Wolcott. Buddy French restored the photos and supplied the historical information that can be found in the book Billion Dollar Coalfield. Buddy also gives a special thanks to his former classmate and friend, Alex Schust, for the many years of research in putting together this book containing information on Marytown and other coal camps and towns in McDowell County.
The small town of Davy was only two miles up the Tug River and many Marytown residents would go to Davy to shop once every two weeks on payday weekend. Even the ten mile trip to Welch was quite a trip in those days on the narrow dirt roads. In the early days most coal miners didn't own a car so they and their families took advantage of the local passenger train service. In 1934, the Consolidated Bus Lines began operation in McDowell County with service to most of the McDowell County coal camps.
Also, if you open the larger image of Marytown 3, and look at the bottom left and center, you will see two small sheds/shacks built along the river bank below the railroad tracks. When you zoom in yousee oneat the far lower left and one just right of lower center of photo. They could have been used by homeless or hobo's but were most likely for what they called "car droppers". They had to work out in the weather and usually had some kind of temporary shelter. These men, usually no more than two or three, would build temporary shelter, thencut the top out of a 55-gallon barrel and build a fire in it in the winter to keep warm. When the tipple needed a coal car to load, the car droppers would climb on a car and release the brake and;ride it down to the tipple.
The Marytown mine originally began operation in 1900 and shut down and reopened several times between 1900 and the 1960's as its ownership changed hands.In 1923 the mines were bought out by the Kingston Pocahontas Coal Company, and then in 1947 the name was changed to Semet Solvey Division of Allied Chemical.
Note: Click on titles for larger images.
In this photo you can see either a school or community playground between the railroad cars in the center right of the photo. There are two swings, two seesaws and a sliding board. To the right of the playground is a building that could be a grade school or coal company office building. Also, when you zoom in you see a shed at the far lower left and one just right of lower center of photo. These were mostly like built by car droppers (see above for more info).
The large building in the middle of the photo is the community center. A closeup of the community center can also be seen in Marytown 8.
The bridge, seen above and in Marytown 6, is about all that remains of Marytown today, except for the foundations of the company store and the coal tipple.
Note: Another view of this house, which was the community center, can be seen in the middle of the photo labelled Marytown 4 and on the right hand side of the photo labelled Marytown 5. This photo was taken in 1946.
These houses were located at the lower end of Twin Branch. The houses on the hillside in this photo can also be seen in the distance from Marytown, as shown in the photo Marytown 3, in the center of the photo.
This page was last updated on 10/26/14