The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Besoco, West Virginia

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Company store at Besoco, circa 1919
Town of Besoco, WV, ca. 1922
Mines at the drift mouth of the Clyde Mine at Besoco, WV
1929 map of Besoco and vicinity

Besoco was established as a company owned mining town in about 1916, along Stone Coal Creek in Raleigh County. The town name of Besoco from derived from the coal company's name, i.e., Beckley Smokeless Coal Company.

The Beckley Smokeless Coal Company began shipping coal from its Besoco mine in July of 1916. The operation was a drift mine, working the Beckley seam, working on a 1,000 acre lease that extended from Raleigh County into Wyoming County. The company was organized in May 1915, with development of the property starting the following September.

To reach the Beckley seam, located 500 feet above the elevation of the rail line, the company constructed an 1,100 foot incline, on a thirty per cent grade. Specially designed seven ton monitors, manufactured by the South Side Foundry Company of Charleston, are utilized for lowering the coal to the tipple via the incline. A supply track operated by an 1,100 foot electric haulage adjoins the incline and supplies and miners are conveyed to the colliery ovcr this line. The tipple was constructed of wood, and equipped with a picking table with reciprocating feed, adjusted for shaker screen. The company's power house was a galvanized structure, that supplied 100 horsepower.

Shipments from the tipple were made via both the Virginia Railway (VGN) and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O). The early coal mines in the Besoco area transported coal to market via the Stone Coal Sub-Division, a branch line railroad jointly operated by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and the Virginian Railway.

The coal company built a two-story structure, that housed a movie theater with a stage large enough for vaudeville acts, which also housed a bowling alley, ice cream parlor, cigar stand, and barber shop, in about 1917. Circa 1917, Beckley Smokeless Coal employed 120 at its Besoco operation, who lived in 34 company built houses. All houses were fenced "free of charge" and gardening and light farming was encouraged by the company, which provided "gratis" fertilizers and teams for plowing the soil.

A subsidiary of Beckley Smokeless Coal Company, the Clyde Pocahontas Coal Company, operated an additional mining operation that adjoined the Besoco townsite, that mined a different coal seam. The company was organized in January of 1917. The operation was a drift mine working the Pocahontas No. 3 seam, on a 100 acre lease. The company's timber tipple had a monthly capacity of 3,000 tons, with its shipments made via both the Virginia Railway (VGN) and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O).


Beckley Smokeless Coal Company

1917-1920: No. 1 and 2 (Besoco)

1920: Beckley Smokeless Coal Co., Nos. 1 & 2, Besoco P.O.


1920: Clyde Pocahontas Coal Co., Nos. 1 & 2, Besoco P.O.

1919-20: Clyde Pocahontas Coal Company, Nos. 1 & 2


Leccony Smokeless Coal Co., circa 1933

1933-1951: Besoco mine

1948: Besoco Nos. 2 & 3

1943-45: Besoco & Poca. No. 3

1925-1929: Beckley And Clyde mines

1928-1939: Beckley mine

Variant Names for Besoco, WV



View a larger version of this map.

Additional Sources of Information

The following article about the Bescoco mining operations of the Beckley Smokeless Coal Company from The Black Diamond, Vol. 62 can be read and downloaded (PDF) at Google Books.


[1] The Raleigh Register, Aug. 30, 1917, p. 34 [2] The Twin-City Daily Sentinel (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), Jan 27, 1917, p. 3 [3] The Black Diamond, Volume 62, p.196