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Dimmock, West Virginia

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Dimmock was a small settlement about one mile west (downstream) of Thurmond, across the New River nearly opposite the mining town of Rush Run. Dimmock was among the first group of stations established in the New River Gorge by the Chesapeake & Ohio Rairoad (C&O) during the 1870s.

1873 map showing some of the first stations established in the New River Gorge by the C&O Railroad
It is interesting to note that Dimmock is shown on maps as early as 1874, nearly 20 years before any mining activity began in the vicinity of the Dimmock, which was also years before Thurmond existed. This early recognition of Dimmock was due to the fact that a station was established at Dimmock by the C&O Railroad as early as 1873, the year that C&O was completed from Richmond, VA to Huntington, WV. At that time, Dimmock was the only station on the C&O mainline between McKendree and Sewell. Between Oct. 1, 1873 and Sept. 30, 1874 Dimmock Station only sent and received a very small amount of freight shipments, sending out 8.62 tons and receiving 2.57 tons. Dimmock did however have 280 passengers that left through its station and 324 arriving passengers between Oct. 1, 1873 and Sept. 30, 1874.[2] Although these numbers seem tiny, these were remarkable numbers considering that Dimmock was at this early date "in the middle of nowhere".

During the year ending Sept. 30, 1880, shortly after stations had opened in the nearby towns of Fire Creek and River View, the number of passengers arriving at Dimmock numbered 9, while 109 left through the the station.[3] But as the region's coal mining industry began to greatly expanding in the 1990s, Dimmock's passenger traffic increased. During the year ending Sept. 30, 1894, 3,720 people left and arrived through Dimmock, and in the year ending Sept. 30, 1895, 2,583 persons left/arrived.[4]

Dimmock's freight traffic had also increased by the 1990s, with the opening of a coal mine at Dimmock. During the year ending Sept. 30, 1894, the C&O moved 18,298 tons of freight moved in/out of Dimmock, and during the year ending Sept. 30, 1895, the railroad transported 47,722 tons.[4]


1901 C&O track diagram showing the general layout of the tracks and tipple of Big Bend Coal Co. at Dimmock
A post office was established at Dimmock at an unknown date. [1] Shirley Donnelly, local history columnist, reported that John G. Brunk opened the Dimmock mine in 1890. However we have found no records of the mine's operation prior to 1892.

The name of the mine was apparently changed from Dimmock to Big Bend in about 1901. State mining records indicate the Dimmock mine was operated by the Dimmock Coal & Coke Company between 1892-1900 and by the Isabel Coal Company in 1905. The Big Bend mine operated by the Big Bend Coal Company between 1901-1920.[5]

A circa-1896 list of mines in the Third Mining District of West Virginia listed the Dimmock Coal & Coke Company as operating the Dimmock mine, describing it as a drift mine working the Fire Creek seam of 4 ft. 6 in. thickness. The company employed 105 workers and W. H. Thayer was superintendent. The company's post office address was Dimmock.

A 1906 C&O Railway publication listed the Isabel Coal & Coke Company as operating a mine at a station named Dimmock. In the same publication an advertisement showed the Dimmock mine as being operated by the Isabel Coal & Coke Company, with T. C. Beury, Pres., and Ernest Echols, Treasurer. The company then maintained a tipple, company store, homes for workers, and was marketed as a shipper of "a superior grade of river sand." The population of Dimmock was estimated at 49 persons in 1910 by the West Virginia Geological Survey.[6]

A 1921 list of coal mines in West Virginia listed the Big Bend Coal Company as operating the Big Bend mine, with a post office address of Dimmock, WV. The mine was a drift mine working the Fire Creek seam of 42 inch thickness. Mules were used for haulage, on tracks of 36 inch gauge. The company employed 16 workers and mined tons of coal in the previous fiscal year. The mine shipped run-of-mine and lump coal, and its tipple used gravity screens.[7]

1890s photo showing the tipple and some of the company houses at Dimmock

Exploring Dimmock

Rafter's Reference: the ruins of Dimmock are located along the railroad on river-right (CSX railroad property is private property, no trespassing permitted), downstream of Thurmond. (Dimmock can be viewed from Rush Run, located on river-left, just downstream and opposite of the Dimmock site.)



Map of 1903-04 showing Dimmock and vicinity

Sources

[1] United States Official Postal Guide (1919) via Google Books
[2] Annual Report of the President and Directors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (1874) via Google Books
[3] Annual Report of the Directors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (1880) via Google Books
[4] Annual Report of the Directors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (1890-1896) via Google Books
[5] West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, mine data tonnage reports
[6] Chesapeake & Ohio Railway: Official Industrial Guide and Shippers' Directory (1906) via Google Books
[7] The Coal Field Directory (1921) via Google Books