Glen Rogers, West Virginia, a coal camp in Wyoming County, contained a large general store, hotel, fueling station and two schools. It was one of the largest coal camps along the Virginian Railway system – and its mines were one of the deadliest in the state.
Glen Rogers was constructed in 1918 by the Raleigh-Wyoming Mining Company 1 with the #1 mine opening in 1921.6 Served by the Virginian Railway, Glen Rogers was named after Massachusetts-born business tycoon Henry Huttleston Rogers who founded the Virginian 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 to the Atlantic Ocean in 1909. The railroad operated in competition with the Chesapeake & Ohio and the Norfolk & Western, and coal produced at Glen Rogers, one of the largest along the Virginian network, was sent to power plants in the United States and to ocean vessels for export.
The Virginian railroad, 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 was served by an elementary and high school, a hospital that later became a hotel, a large two-level company store, an amusement hall and a fueling station. The mines, the county’s largest, employed over 1,000 men in 1930.1 By 1933, the mine produced 867,340 tons of coal, ranked second in the state.8
There were some incidents at Glen Rogers that gave the coal mines a terrible, lasting reputation. On September 23, 1922, during the construction of a 720-foot deep shaft at the Glen Rogers #2 mine, equipment fell on five miners killing them.2 An explosion on November 6, 1923 at 7:30 A.M. killed 27 individuals at the #1 mine, and 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 the explosion occured because of a methane gas buildup.5
There was an underground gas explosion that occurred on January 6, 1931, which claimed 8 at the #2 mine, and a “mountain bump,” or a roof collapse on the #2 mine that killed 5 on December 9, 1957.2 The mines closed in 1960 and the the Old Ben Coal Corporation of Chicago, who had purchased the Raleigh-Wyoming Mining Company around 1930, went bankrupt.1 By the time of its closure, a total of 160 employees were killed at Glen Rogers, making it one of the most dangerous places to work in West Virginia.
Glen Rogers is still serviced by a railroad, in the hands of Norfolk Southern, although it has been out of service for over a decade. The hospital still exists, albeit in a state of serious disrepair, and the company store is only a mere shell. The elementary school serves as the Glen Rogers Manor, an assisted living center, while the high school is abandoned.
- DellaMea, Christopher. “Glen Rogers.” Appalachian Coalfields. N.p., 2011. Web. 30 Jan. 2011. Article.
- “WV MINE DISASTERS 1884 to Present.” West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training. West Virginia Department of Commerce, 21 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Jan. 2011. List.
- “12 Dead, 30 Trapped in Glen Rogers Mine.” Charleston Daily Mail 6 Nov. 1923: n. pag. Web. 30 Jan. 2011. Article.
- “Mining Town Mourns 27 Dead.” Charleston Daily Mail 7 Nov. 1923: n. pag. Web. 30 Jan. 2011. Article.
- Scholz, Carl. The story of Glen Rogers, West Virginia. N.p.: Raleigh-Wyoming Coal Co., 1933. Print.
- Lilly, Karl C., III. “Glen Rogers Mine Disaster .” West Virginia Encyclopedia. West Virginia Humanities Council, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2011. Article.
- Dillon, Lacy A. They Died in the Darkness. Parsons: McClain, 1976.
- Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States. : U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration, 1998.
- Lilly, Karl C., III. “Virginian Railway .” West Virginia Encyclopedia. West Virginia Humanities Council, n.d. 5 Nov. 2010. Web. 31 Jan. 2011. Article.
- Robinson, Ed. Introduction. Wyoming County. By Robinson. Charleston: Arcadia, 2005. 8. Print.