Coal Camps: Man, West Virginia - Abandoned by Sherman Cahal

Coal Camps: Man, West Virginia

We have all been there. A ominous derelict is on the horizon and we are tempted to stop and explore, but because of external factors – children in the car, poor lighting, and so forth, we pass up the opportunity to check out the abandonment.

Suppose that derelict was the Man Community Hospital in Man, West Virginia. The hospital opened in 1956 by the Miners Memorial Hospital Association, a not-for-profit that constructed hospitals and clinics for the under-served coal mining regions of eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. Thousands of United Mine Workers of America workers and citizens celebrated the Miners Memorial Hospital openings, which were scattered throughout the region, and which provided modern health care in regions that had scant medical support. But the Man Community Hospital, later owned by Appalachian Regional Healthcare, was closed in 2001 after falling deep into debt.

The community gathered and made attempts to purchase the hospital. The county floated plans to convert the facility into a Level 5 Trauma Center. And the local bank that owned the land halted foreclosure proceedings for a time to see if the local governments would be able to pull through to save the local medical center. But all of those efforts failed, and the hospital, once a point of pride for the region, became healthy vandalized.

On my initial visit years ago, the hospital seemed as if it had just closed just days earlier. Lights were on in a lot of the rooms, furniture still resided in the waiting rooms and papers were still piled on the desks. I never entered because I had a passenger who was more than weary of just walking around the hospital. I told myself that I would return, someday.

That day was January 2, 2011, part of my excursion through the coalfields of West Virginia. But by this trip, the hospital with its pristine interior had degraded to one that was being gutted and demolished. Gone were most of the windows, replaced with boards and empty sockets. Furniture, while still inside, was in disarray. Gone was the pristineness.

After feeling completely awful for having not visiting the hospital years ago, despite it’s pristine condition – and the hope to find a location stocked with computers and other relics for photographic pureness, I moved on. Nearby was a strip mall, discovered en route to Logan. But darkness was quickly approaching, and I was only able to take a handful of photographs – perfectly acceptable for a rather generic shopping plaza. The Midway Plaza, constructed in the 1970s, has a decidedly abandoned feel, despite some open storefronts – which include a Thrift Store and a Bingo Hall.

What is fascinating is that Midway Plaza bears resemblance to many other shopping centers, not only in the coalfields of West Virginia, but in America. With Midway Plaza, the configuration included a power tenant – most likely, a K-Mart, Magic Mart or Kroger, and a secondary power tenant, which at one point was a Big Lots. Smaller tenants included a shoe store and a post office, and now a bingo hall. Outlots included a Wendy’s and a more upscale restaurant, with the last iteration being a Charley’s – a knockoff O’Charley’s, with the same font and color scheme.

There isn’t much holding up the center today, although it resides next to the new West Virginia State Route 10 freeway. But with traffic blazing by at 65 miles-per-hour, will there be any hope that this shopping center survives even into 2012? Or will consumers flock to the Wal-Mart plaza at Logan – 20 minutes away, or to the smaller storefronts in Man – 10 minutes away?

Stay tuned for the next update, this time coming from a coal camp in Virginia and a school in Gary, West Virginia! Be sure to read through the earlier Coal Camp series:

24 Comments

  1. Enjoyed this site. Born in Sarah Ann 1938. Lived in numerous coal camps, more years spent in Bengal (probably gone) but above Kistler on Rt. 10. You say Rt.10 is a new freeway now. That road is why I've only visited the area 3 times in all these years. Awful road for all these years..hope now it's better but it has or will bypass Man I'm sure. Man, Kistler and other coal camps have been abandoned and forgotten for sure.

  2. I remember the Midway Plaza as the Rita Mall back in the 1980's and 1990's. My father worked at Belva Coal Company, which was only a few miles away. My family and I used to go shopping at the mall almost every payday! You can't tell by looking at it now, but it was actually a very nice place to shop. In the 1980's, this Wendy's location was the first in the Logan area and was always packed after football games. Ponderosa was the more "upscale" restaurant and Ames was the powerhouse store. There was also an Artley's, Fashion Bug and Goody's. It's too bad it looks so shabby now, I really had some good memories of this place!

  3. Actually with the Wendy's it was moved to Man itself…so it didn't close down they just got a newer facility in the Man area…and as for Charley's it was not a knockoff of O'Charleys it was originally Bonanza and a man named Charley Vance bought it and so it was named after him.

  4. AS A YOUNG NURSE IN 1960,MY FIRST JOB WAS AT THE MINERS MEM. HOSPITAL, MAN, WV.

    MOST OF US WERE GREEDY, BECAUSE THE PAY WAS BETTER THAN ANYTHING IN STATE AND

    OUT. MANY DOCTORS AND NURSES WERE FROM OUT OF STATE OR COUNTRY. WE LIVED IN A BEAUTIFUL STAFF HOUSING, WITH EVER THING FURNISHED. THERE WERE DOCTORS WAITING

    TO GO TO ONE OF THE LARGER HOSPITALS FOR THEIR RESIDENCY. THE GROUNDS WERE BEAUTIFUL. THIS HOSPITAL OFFERED IT'S STAFF EVERY THING ONE COULD WANT. I WOULD NEVER SEE THAT KIND OF LIFE AGAIN. THE PEOPLE OF MAN WERE THE KINDEST I HAVE MET.

    THEY ARE THE STRONGEST ALSO. AS WE WERE LEAVING THEY WERE PREPARING TO FILLED OUR JOBS, AND THEY DID AN EXCELLENT JOB. IN ABOUT 5 YEARS THE STAFF WAS ALL HOME TOWN AND RAN A GREAT HOSPITAL. THE CARE WAS VERY GOOD. THEY HAD THE BUFFALO

    CREEK FLOOD, BUT THEY CAME BACK STRONGER THAN EVER. THE NINERS HAD TO SELL THEIR

    HOSPITALS. I FEEL THE REASON WAS THE MINERS WANTED TO GIVE THEIR OWN THE BEST.

    BUT THEY GAVE TOO MUCH. HOMES FOR DOCTORS. WE NEVER HAD TO PAY A PLUMBER,THE LAUNDERY WAS FREE, THE HOSPITAL WASHED ALL OF OUR LINEN, JUST THINK THEY GAVE THEIR ALL. I SAW MANY OF THE DOCTORS TAKE ENOUGH INSTRUMENTS TO START THEIR OFFICES. NOW OUR HOSPITAl IS IN RUINS, DUE TO LAZY NO GOODS!!!! EACH TIME I SEE THE RUINS TEARS COME TO MY EYES. I SWALLOW, CLOSE MY EYES AND THE DREAM THAT WAS.WITH THE HOSPITAL GONE, THE PEOPLE OF MAN ARE STRONGER THAN EVER.THEY

    STARTED THE McCOY TRAIL AND IT IS POPPING. AGAIN I'M AMAZED AND PROUD.SO KNOW THE HISTORY BEFORE YOU TALK.

    TEARS COME TO MY EYES

  5. I can not believe all these abandoned buildings. Is it because of closed mines? a lot look fairly new, and the miner s hospital. No people in the area? Are there any miner's hospital's in West Virginia? Were they well staffed and had up date equipment?

  6. I was working at this Man Appalachian Regional facility when it closed. We took good care of our patients, treating them like family. Most of them were family or close friends. ARH stopped putting money into this hospital many years before it closed. Another factor that contributed to it's closing was people being awarded positions such as administrator and director of nursing,and other supervisory positions for which they did not have the experience and in many instances, the education needed to properly discharge their duties. To call Man Community Hospital a 'hospital' is a joke. There was never a 'hospital' for in-patients under that name. Man Community Hospital was a small clinic with one doctor that operated withing the building. People had big dreams but did not have the funds or education and experience needed to open the hospital under the name "Man Community Hospital'. It is sad to drive by and see the building as it is today. A trauma center would be wonderful..not only because of new mines open in the area but for other med. emergencies.

  7. I was born in that hosp and had my first two children in there as well, lost my grandmother and my uncle and aunt there and I almost lost my father as well but because it was there my daddy is here with me. They saved his life!!!!!! Having this hosp was a very good thing for this community and served it's purpose well. I was so sad to see it go.

  8. I managed the Murphy's Mart and helped open the store in 1981. There was a heck's, wenders, and Krogers there in the mall. I remember the Wendy's when it opened. Sad. Thanks for the memories as to what it was.

  9. The building is still standing, but has decayed significantly since these photos were taken. Bed frames hang out of the broken windows, nature is beginning to take it back.

  10. Being a teenager in the early to mid 80’s it was such a big deal when that mall came along. My first job was at that Shoe World around age 16. There was actually a little indoor mall area with a small arcade, a little hotdog stand, and a few other shops. I think at one point that steakhouse was a Bonanza. That was a really big deal for our small area. It’s hard to believe that it has turned to what it is now : (

  11. I worked at Man Hospital when it was Appalachian Regional Hospital and worked there when it closed and also when we tried to reopen it. I worked the ER the very last shift when they shut the door for our community and it’s safety. Sure we were not CAMC but we saved lives. I saw that every day. At the time we were trying to reopen it a child died from aspiration because they couldn’t get it to Logan in time. Not saying we could have made things any different but the chances would have been much greater that it would have made it. I also think that as far as the Hatfield and McCoy trail goes, there is no healthcare in this area except through the day so this keeps some people from coming to this area for safety reasons. Why do we stay here? It’s home and our roots run deep. It is sad to pass by where the hospital once stood, it’s just a pile of rocks now with a whole lot of very good memories buried in it.

  12. Please add the old Man Junior High School on Main Street! I believe it closed in about 2002 or 2003. I would love to see this school added.

    There are also a host of elementary schools in the Area that have been abandoned as well:
    Buffalo High School – located at Crown, WV, Amherstale Grade, Earling Grade, Mallory Grade, and Christian Grade just to name a few…

    • I started 1st grade the year that Earling Grade School opened–1958. My father was the pastor at the Methodist church at Earling. I didn’t know it was still standing.

  13. I need help in locating anyone with the last name of PETRY, who worked /lived or knows of the PETRYs in any of these coal camps around Whitesville, W. Va….S&G Coal Co., Seng Creek Coal Co., W.Va. Southern Coal Co. or any camps that I missed in this area. I was there one summer as a little boy around 1957 58 or 59, Way too young to remember a lot, but I just need to go back there. I do remember 2 of the PETRY daughter’s names,, RITA and PATSEY. Any help at all will be greatly appreciated.

  14. I lived in glen Rogers until I was 14. I went to Scott Grade I would love to have pictures of that small school.all pictures we had was destroyed in a flood.

  15. There was an Ames, a books a million, fashion bug, big lots, bonanza steak house from when I was a kid, there’s been a pet store and she musical store there, majority started closing in the late 90’s and by early 2000 only thing left was big lots, Wendy’s and the steak house. Logan has died as the job market/coal industry has vanished. This beautiful town I grew up in has become a ghost town with druggies, alcoholics and people struggling to take care of their families. I was born in Man hospital, I remember how neat it used to be, sad to see what is left of what used to be my hometown. Many of my classmates left to find jobs and a better life, but many have stayed. It would be great if our community could have some other resource to bank off of for jobs, but coal mining is all they know, and WV keeps taking the hits of mines closing due to new guidelines and regs by EPA and lawmakers. Our leaders in office and in DC need to step in and do soemthing to help them, but many are to greedy to care, as long as they have food on tables and a roof over their head, they are content and don’t care.

  16. I was treated for everything from bronchitis to broken arms at that hospital growing up. It just breaks my heart to see this.

  17. Can someone tell me exactly where the strip mall called Midway Plaza or Rita Mall is located? Could this have been a mine at one point? Could the company be Epic Coal Company? My Grandfather worked for Epic Coal Company and the mine where he was killed was turned into a shopping mall. Would love information or photos if anyone would share them with me. Thanks!

    • Take WV 10 south out of Logan. After several miles, you’ll come to a 4-way intersection with a new 4-lane highway. WV 10 will turn left, but you want to go straight. Just ahead on the left is the entrance to the plaza. Here’s a Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/4eQJkC9uj6m

  18. I worked as a manager of Wendy’s at the Midway Rita Mall from 1992 to 1997. The anchor stores were Ames and Big Lots. Revco Drug store was there along with other smaller stores including a Bingo Hall, Lane Bryant, Shoe Show, and a pet store. It was a bustling little mall at that time. I remember visiting the mall when it first opened in 1970s. The mall had high expectations and was complete with a Krogers supermarket on one end and Ames Dept. Store on the other. There was an inner mall with lots of small stores including a record store, shoe store, hot dog stand, and lots more. It is so sad to see southern West Virginia shriveling up and dying.

    Regarding Man Hospital, I went to the hospital many times for myself and others. I had surgery there in 1991. The hospital was staffed with excellent doctors and nurses. It was sad to see it close, vandalized, and torn down. At one point, people were raising funds to reopen the hospital, but that fell through and what happened to the money?

  19. Let’s not forget about the Midway Skate Center first opened up by Doug Williamson (I think) then a few years later it was taken over by Mike and Gail Toth of Chapmanville, what memories I’ve had at that place and all the others that everyone has mentioned. I worked at Wendy’s a short time and shopped at the mall all the time, sad to see it gone or all but gone….. we also had a Food Maxx at one point also, I think one store was called L.A. Joes too…… man, what memories of the ole Rita Mall, the skate rink was packed almost every weekend, when it would close at midnight, we’d leave and go over to Madison Creek to our gameroom and alot of people would come over and play games and shoot pool in a pool tounament, those were the days…… God Bless all of ya.

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