The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Erskine (historical)

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Virtual view of Erskine via Google Earth
1913 USGS map showing the two tipple of the Thurmond Coal Company operation at Erskine
1886 map labeled the location of Erskine as "Thurmond"
1901 C&O track diagram showing Thurmond Coal Co.

On August 21, 1888, the Thurmond Coal Company filed its company charter in anticipation of opening a new coal mine located on the south side of the river opposite present-day Thurmond. In 1889, the railroad bridge across the New River at Thurmond was completed, and about two miles tracks along the south side of New River were completed to the Erskine coal plant. This was the first of several mining operation opened what would later become the South Side Branch of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O).

State mining records indicate the mines at Erskine were operated by the Thurmond Coal Co. from 1890-1913; Rock Lick Coal Co. during 1914-1919; and Rock Lick Smokeless Coal from 1920-1936. The Dunedin mine was operated by Dunedin Coal Co. from 1923-1933.

By the early-1900s the company was operating two mines. One mine opened operated in the Sewell seam. Coal was carried to the tipple at Erskine via a monitor from the mine located high on the hillside at Concho. Sometime between 1901 and 1906, another mine was opened that mined the Fire Creek seam. This mine was located slightly further downstream. Although located high on the hillside the mine opening was several hundred feet lower in vertical elevation than the Conco mine. Two tipples were located along the C&O tracks, one for each mine.

The company maintained a company store, a power house, and houses for workers. In 1910 the population at Erskine was estimated at 48 persons by the West Virginia Geological Survey. A post office was established at Erskine in 1902, so named for Erskine Miller, among the Stauton, VA investors in the mining operation. The post office was closed sometime prior to 1916.

The first electrical plant employed for cutting and haulage in West Virginia was constructed at Erskine in 1889 -- the second of its kind in the nation. An electric locomotive and mining machine were put into use and all the mine's main entries lighted by electricity. This experiment meet with limited success, however it did mark the beginning of the process of mechanization of the coal mining industry in the U.S.

Little more than foundations now remain at Erskine, established on the South Side Branch of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway downstream and across the New River from Thurmond near the mouth of Rush Run.

Rafter's Reference: remnants of Erskine may be found in the bottoms and banks near the mouth of Rush Run on river-left. The area of Erskine is also accessible from the Brooklyn-Southside Junction Trail or from the Thurmond-Minden Trail via either the Southside Junction Connector Trail or the Arbuckle Connector Trail