Sprouse Creek Preparation Plant

The Sprouse Creek Preparation Plant, located in Mingo County, West Virginia, was responsible for cleaning, blending, and loading coal into railcars for distribution.


Constructed between 1976 and 1978 by the Daniels Company for the Rawl Sales & Processing Company, a subsidiary of A.T. Massey Coal Company, the Sprouse Creek Preparation Plant in Mingo County, West Virginia, processed coal. 2 This facility, with a capacity of 1,400 tons per hour, received coal primarily from nearby mines owned by or contracted with Rawl.

In 1984, the United Mine Workers (UMW) sought a single collective contract for all 120 of Massey’s mines, including its subsidiaries. 1 3 Massey, however, argued for individual contracts for each mine, citing unique operating conditions at different sites. The UMW, concerned about its declining influence, viewed this dispute as critical to asserting its relevance.

That fall, the UMW initiated a strike targeting a mine and processing plant operated by Rawl near Matewan. 1 3 This conflict involved thousands of UMW workers in opposition to Massey. Initially, Rawl’s management extended gestures of goodwill to the picketers, such as providing coffee and diesel fuel. However, the situation escalated when the company employed non-union workers and hired a South African security firm to secure the mine.

The ensuing strike lasted 15 months, marked by a death, hundreds of injuries, and thousands of violent incidents, including gunfire and vandalism. 1 3 A sniper killed a non-union coal truck driver on Coeburn Mountain, and another miner was injured by gunfire while picketing in Canada, Kentucky. Additionally, Don Blankenship’s office was targeted, with one incident involving eleven bullets that destroyed a television. Ultimately, the UMW ended the strike, agreeing to negotiate separate contracts with Massey’s 17 major subsidiaries.

In October 2010, Massey Energy, which had succeeded A.T. Massey, reopened the Sprouse Creek Preparation Plant, modernized and refurbished, to process coal from the Round Bottom highwall mine and the Long Pole deep mine. 4

However, in June 2011, Massey Energy was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources. Facing a decline in the coal industry, exacerbated by competition from natural gas, environmental regulations, and increasing railroad transportation costs, Alpha closed the Sprouse Creek Preparation Plant in 2012.




  1. “Six-Month-Old Coal Miners’ Strike Grows Bitter.” New York Times, 2 Apr. 1985, p. A10.
  2. Fiscor, Steve. “2020 US Coal Prep Census.” Coal Age, Oct. 2020.
  3. Baker, Donald P. and Mark Francis. “Miners Take Strike to Pulpit.” Washington Post, 25 Feb. 1985.
  4. “Massey Energ CEO Discusses Q3 2010 Results – Earnings Call Transcript.” Seeking Alpha, 27 Oct. 2010.

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