Intensive survey should be undertaken after careful consideration of a research design.
A research of coal company towns in eastern Kentucky is such a large topic that it could
be approached from many different perspectives. Given the perspective, one coal town
remnants may be significant, within another perspective, the same town remnant may not.
Kentucky Heritage Council preservation planners must become familiar with the different
ways of viewing these resources to evaluate particular research designs.
Document research to be conducted should include investigation of Record Group 68,
Records of Living Conditions Section, National Archives and Records Service, Washington
National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland. These contain the individual town survey of
living conditions conducted by the U.S. Coal Commission in the early 1920s. Perhaps as
many as 70 Kentucky towns were studied by the Coal Commission. Important information
relating to town location, living conditions, configuration, and other aspects of their
physical dimensions promises to be here. These records have not been cited by those
studying coal company towns, and so could provide a valuable glimpse into the nature of
Information sources could be consulted to know more about the human dimensions of coal
towns than were used here. These could include county histories, interviews with company
officials, oral history at the Oral History Commission and University of Kentucky,
photographic archives at various Kentucky institutions, and any available coal company
A task force should be established to investigate ways to select towns for positive
preservation treatments and to search for ways to finance those treatments. Interests with
expertise or interest in this effort would include, but not be limited to, Appalachian
Regional Commission, Kentucky Tourism and Economic Development Cabinets, Area Development
Districts, Marshall University Center for Regional Progress, University of Kentucky Center
for Appalachian Studies, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and members of the
general public. Agencies whose activities currently threaten the survival of historic coal
resources could also be invited to the task force if their members saw cooperation in
their benefit as part of wise planning. Those agencies could include, but not be limited
to Natural Resources Cabinet, Office of Surface Mining, timber companies and coal mining
The list of company towns compiled by Robert Rennick should be plotted on a map and
investigated further. Attention should be given to the distance of each location from
transportation corridors. Dates of operation should be ascertained for each town.
The least is known about the history of mining in eastern Kentucky during the 1790-1860
period. Production statistics show that eastern Kentucky counties led western Kentucky
counties in annual production, and that both regions increased their production each year
during the period, it seems reasonable to posit company towns existed long before Peach
Orchard is known to have been established in late 1840s. Kentucky Heritage Council should
encourage archeological survey to determine locations and town forms of company towns from
this earliest period of mining. Investigation should focus on two large issues: how do
these early company towns differ from later coal towns, and how to similarities between
early and later towns suggest continuity in the col mining industry?
The Kentucky Heritage Council should participate in multi-state efforts to study coal
mining history, especially of company town history is a major focus of that effort.