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Beury, West Virginia

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Stone structure at Beury that housed the the office of Jos. Beury, the company store and town's post office
1901 C&O track diagram showing Beury, Echo and Central

Opened in the 1880s, the mines at Beury were among the early mining operations in the New River Gorge. Operated by Buery, Cooper and Company the Echo mine, located just upstream of the town of Beury, began shipping coal on October 23, 1882 according to Hotchkiss's publication, The Virginias. The publication also indicated the Echo mine was currently shipping 4 cars daily but planned to steadily increase its output. The First Annual Report of State Inspector of Mines for the Year 1883 also lists Wm. Beury, Cooper & Co. as operating the Echo mine.

In 1898 Joseph Beury acquired the interests of John Cooper and William Beury in the Echo lease and with his sons incorporated the Echo Coal and Coke Co. The Central mine (just downstream of Beury) was opened by M. T. Davis, John R. Seal, Thomas H. Gorden, and others in the mid- to late-1880s. Central Coal Company was chartered on May 5, 1887. Central was located at Mile Post 394 and Beury was located at Mile Post 393.2. The mile posts along the railroad indicated the distance from Fort Monroe, Virginia.

The W.Va. mining report for the year ending June 30, 1893, listed the Central mine as being operated by the Central Coal Co. Another mining report described the Central mine as a drift mine working the Fire Creek seam of 3-5 feet thickness. The had 128 workers and had 50 coke ovens in operation. J. R. Seal was superintendent. The company's post office address was Fire Creek. The same publication listed the Echo mine as being operated by Beury, Cooper and Co., a drift mine working the Fire Creek coal seam of 3-5 feet thickness. The company had 175 workers and 50 coke ovens in operation. J. L. Beury was superintendent. The company's post office address was Beury. The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety & Training database has the mining operating misidentified as "Centeral Coal Co." and shows production figures for the "Centeral" mine for the years 1889-1902.

The W.Va. mining report for the year ending June 30, 1903, reported that the Central mine was being operated by the Gordon Coal & Coke Co., noting the mine had been the previously been the property of the Central Coal Co. until Jan. 1, 1903. The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety & Training database indicates the Central mine had only two years of production under the Gorden Coal & Coke Co., in 1903 and 1904.

In a 1906 C&O publication the Echo mine is listed as being operated by the Echo Coal & Coke Company, which had one mine, a tipple and 50 coke ovens in operation. The Central mine was shown as being operated by the Chapman Iron Coal & Iron Company. The Central operation was served by a station named Central, and had 50 coke ovens in operation.

Circa 1906, in addition to stations named Echo and Central, the railroad also maintained a station named Beury. In 1908, the Chapman mine (at Central) was sold to the Beechwood Coal & Coke Company, and the remaining coal in the mine was removed through the Beechwood mine at Claremont. The West Virginia Department of Mines report for 1908 indicates the inside workings of the Central, Stone Cliff, and Beechwood mines were physically connected with the Echo mine and were being operated by the Beury Brothers Coal & Coke Company.

On March 31, 1909 an explosion at the Echo mine killed 5 workers. The mine was being operated by the Beury Brothers Coal Company at that time. A 1921 list of coal mines in West Virginia named the Beury Bros. Coal & Coke Co. as operating the Beury mine, with a post office address at Beury.

Buery was named for Joseph L. Beury, an early coal industrialist. Here Beury built a fine house in which he, his wife and four children lived. Stone used in the home's foundation was reportedly imported from Germany, and the total cost of building the house was said to be $100,000. The house had 23 rooms with swimming pool, stone gardens, a greenhouse, and stables on the grounds of residence. Beury was said to frequently hire orchestras to play on the lawn of the Beury home on Sunday evenings during the summer months. Beury died at his residence in Beury on June 2, 1903. His wife died in 1917, and afterwards the Beury house was occupied by their son, Harry B. Beury, his wife and six children. After moving to Charleston the family returned to the Beury to spend the summer months. The so-called "Beury Mansion" was completely destroyed by fire at some unknown date, leaving only traces of its stone foundations. (1)

A Catholic church building was established at Beury at some unknown date. The building was small, but much more ornate than commonly found in the West Virginia coal fields at that time. At some later point in time the church building was used by a Protestant denomination.

A rather steep but functional wagon road was constructed over the top of hill between Thurmond and Beury at some point in time. In later years some Beury citizens traveled this route via automobile. The rusted remains of an old Model A Ford sat abandoned on a hillside at Beury for many decades until it disappeared sometime in the 1980s.

At Beury the Fayette Liquor Company was in business prior to Prohibition. The company bottled beer that was shipped to Beury in kegs and whiskey was shipped in barrels. The bottling company was the distribution point for all saloons in Fayette County, some suggesting unless a saloon owners bought from the liquor company they wouldn't obtain a license from Fayette County authorities.

A post office was established at Beury at some unknown date. It was included on a 1917 list of West Virginia post offices. According to the W.Va. Geological Survey of 1919, the population of Beury in 1910 was 495.


Rafter's Reference: the ruins of Beury are located on river-right, about midway between Thurmond and Surprise Rapids.


Sources:

(1) Fayette Tribune, Member of Beury Family Sets 'Ghost Story' Record Straight