Kentucky Coal Heritage
Coal Camps & Communities












By James B. Goode, Professor

    The period from the turn-of-the-century until the 1960's was the heyday of the American coal camp.  Over 20,000 coal camps were established during this period.  Kentucky was among the leaders with large corporate companies like United States Steel, International Harvester, Blue Diamond Coal Corporation, Inland Steel, Bethlehem Steel, and others building hundreds of camps throughout the Commonwealth.  Smaller, family-owned camps appeared as well.   Dotting the landscapes were names like:  Looney Creek Coal Company, Alma Thacker Fuel, Ester & Effie Crowley Mine, and Mary Helen Coal Corporation.

    This database contains 1,937 entries, attempting to document coal camps found in Kentucky.  Information about the location of the camp (city, county), years of operation, and approximate number of employees is available.  The information is difficult to locate.  The statistics are based on a combination of trade publications, commercial guides, company records, state agency files, and national archives.  We have tried to be as complete and accurate as possible. 

Secondary research was primarily extrapolated from:

Dodrill, Earl.  Twenty Thousand Coal Company Stores.  Pittsburgh, Pa.: Duquesne Lithographing Company, 1971.

Keystone Coal Field Directory.  Pittsburgh, Pa.: Keystone Consolidated Publishing Company, 1919-1926.

Keystone Coal Industry Manual.  New York, N.Y.: Maclean Hunter Publishing Company, 1969-Present.

Shifflett, Crandall.  Coal Towns:  Life, Work, and Culture in Company Towns of Southern Appalachia, 1880-1960.  Knoxville, Tenn.: The University of Tennessee Press, 1991.

United States and Canada Coal Mine Directory.  New York: McGraw-Hill, 1940-1968.






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