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, and at its height, Glen Rogers boasted two schools, general store, hotel and fueling station. The town was also notorious for its deadly mines.
Glen Rogers was constructed in 1918 by the Raleigh-Wyoming Mining Company 1 with the No. 1 mine opening 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, and coal produced at Glen Rogers’ mines was sent to power plants in the United States and to ocean vessels for export.
Glen Rogers was one of the many company towns served by the Virginian. The line, completed to Wyoming County in 1912, snaked up Marsh, Milan and Laurel Fork and featured a lengthy tunnel at Polk Gap.
At its height, Glen Rogers featured an elementary and high school, a hospital that later became a hotel, a two-story company store, an amusement hall and a fueling station. 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 coal in 1933 and was ranked second in the state in terms of output.8
In 1930, the Old Ben Coal Corporation of Chicago purchased the Raleigh-Wyoming Mining Company.1 Old Ben Coal went bankrupt in 1960 and the mines at Glen Rogers were shuttered.
Glen Rogers boasted some of the most dangerous mines in the United States.
On September 23, 1922, during the construction of a 720-foot 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 8 lives at the No. 2 mine. A roof collapse, also called a “mountain bump,” 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 employees were killed, making it one of the most dangerous places to work in West Virginia.
Glen Rogers is still serviced by the Norfolk Southern Railroad, the ultimate successor to the Virginian, although the tracks have been out of service for well over a decade.