Kentucky Coal Heritage
Coal Camps & Communities












  1. 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.

  2. 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 specific towns.

  3. 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 archives.

  4. 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 operators.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.






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