Glen Rogers, West Virginia is a former company town in Wyoming County. It was one of the largest coal camps along the Virginian Railway system.
Constructed in 1918 by the Raleigh-Wyoming Mining Company,1 Glen Roger’s No. 1 mine opened in 1921.6 The town was named after Massachusetts-born business tycoon Henry Huttleston Rogers who founded the Virginian Railway using $30 million of his own money.7 The Virginian was the combination of the Deepwater Railway Company of Fayette County and the Tidewater Railway Company of Virginia and was completed from West Virginia to the Atlantic Ocean in 1909. The railroad operated in competition with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad and the Norfolk & Western Railway.
Glen Rogers was one of the many company towns served by the Virginian, completed to Wyoming County by 1912. A branch line to Glen Rogers was completed and included a tunnel at Polk Gap and numerous bridges along Marsh, Milan, and Laurel Fork.
The mines, the Wyoming County’s largest, employed over 1,000 men by 1930.1 The mines at Glen Rogers produced 867,340 tons of bituminous coal in 1933 and was ranked second in the state in terms of output.8 Coal produced at Glen Rogers’ mines was sent to power plants in the United States and to ocean vessels for export.
The Raleigh-Wyoming Mining Company built a hotel, company store, amusement hall and fueling station. A school was built in 1928 and replaced with a new building in 1951. In 1930, the Old Ben Coal Corporation of Chicago purchased Raleigh-Wyoming Mining.1 Old Ben Coal went bankrupt in 1960 and the mines at Glen Rogers were closed.
Glen Rogers featured some of the most dangerous mines in the United States.
- On September 23, 1922, during the construction of a 720-feet deep shaft at the Glen Rogers No. 2 mine, equipment fell on five miners crushing them to death.2
- An explosion on November 6, 1923, at 7:30 a.m., killed 27 individuals at the No. 1 mine. A Charleston Daily Mail article initially reported that 12 had died with another 30 trapped in the mine.3 6 Twenty-three men, uninjured, were rescued and brought to the surface. The cause of the explosion was reported to be likely the ignition of gas from the back fire of a shot or by a spark from short-circuited wires that ignited volatile coal dust,4 but an investigation revealed that the blowup occurred because of methane gas concentration.5
- An underground gas explosion occurred on January 6, 1931, which claimed eight lives at the No. 2 mine. A roof collapse occurred in the No. 2 mine on December 9, 1957, killing 5.2
By the time of the closure of Glen Rogers’ mines in 1960, a total of 160 miners were killed, making it one of the most dangerous places to work in the state and nation.