A Guide to the Historic Coal Towns of the Big Sandy River Valley, Revised with a new Afterword

  • Author(s): Torok, George D.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2004-05-28
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $55.00 | Buy Now


The Big Sandy River Valley of Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia experienced a great coal boom at the end of the nineteenth century. The area attracted railroads, capital, corporations, and people. Isolated mountain communities became the sites of great mining operations, small regional commercial centers grew, and hundreds of coal company towns appeared almost overnight. Today, many of these once-vibrant coal towns are fading away, their populations a fraction of their heyday, their buildings, homes, and mine sites abandoned.

This guidebook takes the reader to some of these intriguing ghost towns. For each town, the author presents detailed directions and brief histories, notes what buildings and structures remain, and provides fascinating details about their people. A Guide to the Historic Coal Towns of the Big Sandy River Valley guides visitors through the streets and hollows of these communities, rich in Appalachian, African American, and immigrant culture. A must for anyone traveling through the valley, as well as for students of Appalachia, coal mining, railroads, and American history.

George D. Torok is a native of Buffalo, New York, and currently lives in El Paso, Texas, where he teaches history at El Paso Community College. He has published assorted works on Kentucky history, the early national era, and the American Southwest. When he and his wife Blanca are now touring the borderlands exploring program ideas for his television show Along the Rio Grande, they enjoy world travel, writing, photography, and the lifestyle of the American Southwest.