The West Virginia. Cyclopedia
Cunard, West Virginia
Cunard today may be best known as the site of the river-access area from which most whitewater rafting trips on the Lower New River Gorge depart. The present-day town of Cunard, however, only lends its name to the river-access area and is located in the highlands outside the gorge, some distance from the river-access. However, an early mining operation was located at the bottom of the New River Gorge along the South Side Branch of the C&O Railway, where the railroad established a station named Cunard during the early-1890s.
The Cunard colliery was opened soon after the C&O South Side Branch was extended from Rush Run to the area of the Cunard mine in 1891. State mining records indicate the Cunard mine was operated by Cunard Coal Company from 1894-1904; New River Smokless Coal Company from 1905-1908; and Coal Run Coal Company during the period of 1918-1944. (1)
A circa-1896 list of mining operations in the Third District of West Virginia listed the Cunard Coal Company as operating the Cunard mine, a drift opening working the Sewell seam, of 4 feet thickness. The company employed 65 workers and F. Howard was mine superintendent, a position Howard held at both the Cunard and Brooklyn mines. The company's post office address was Sewell. A 1906 C&O publication listed the Cunard Coal Co. as operating the Cunard mine and having 65 coke ovens and a tipple in operation.
The 1901 state mining report indicated that the Cunard mine was working an opening in the Sewell seam located 780 feet above the elevation of the C&O track. To bring the coal down to the level of the tipple, an incline 1,750 feet long was used; three mine cars constituted a trip, each car having a capacity of 1-1/2 tons.
According to 1919 the W.Va. Geological Survey, the original Cunard mine had been worked out and abandoned for "some years." Another mine, also known as "Cunard", was being operated by the Scotia Coal Company in 1919. The mine was located high above New River (at an elevation of 1710'), 0.6 miles west of Sewell along a branch of Coal Run. As time passed, the area located high the hillside where most of the mine's workers lived and became the location designated as Cunard on many maps. The USGS map of 1919 labeled both the town at the "top" and the station and mining plant at the "bottom" as "Cunard."
In 1923, the Coal Run Coal Company was operating the Cunard mining operation, and employed 96 workers who worked 132 days. Both pick and machine mining was done, with 11 locomotives used to move the coal. C. L. Garvin was mine superintendent; Aaron Richmond, mine foreman. The The Coal Catalog: Combined with Coal Field Directory for the Year 1920 indicated that the Cunard tipple used shaker screens and loading booms and produced run of mine, slack, egg, and lump coal and that the company purchase its electrical power.
(1) West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, mine data tonnage reports
Variant Names for Cunard, WV
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Additional Sources of Information
The following article about the Cunard mining operations of the Coal Run Coal Company from The Black Diamond, Vol. 62 can be read and downloaded (PDF) at Google Books.