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Prudence, West Virginia

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Prudence was developed as a company owned mining town in the early 1900s by the Prudence Coal & Coke Company, on a 1,300 acre coal lease. The first shipment of coal from the Prudence coal plant occurred during the year ending June 30, 1902. The Prudence operation mined the Sewell coal seam, which in the general area, ran from four feet to seven feet in thickness and averaged about five and half feet. The Prudence mines' seams ran from 56 to 66 inches in thickness. The Prudence mines were all drift openings. Circa 1919 the population of Prudence was 325 persons (Rand-McNally.)

map showing Prudence area
The central surface operations of the Prudence plant and its tipple were located along an unnamed tributary to Dunloup Creek, northeast of Harvey, in Fayette County. However, several of the company's mine openings were located up to two miles away, further to the northeast, in the general vicinity of Sanger. (See map, at right.)

The topography of the area of the lease was such that the coal seams were not continuous, and for this reason the coal seams were worked as more than one opening. Between 1901 and 1935, the mines operated by the Prudence Coal & Coke Company included Lyman, Nos. 1,2,&3, Jones, and Prudence.

The first mine opened, a mine named "Prudence", was located along the 1/2-mile long spur track of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) that ran along the unnamed tributary to Dunloup Creek. (This mine was not marked on any of the early USGS maps.) But considerable coal lay to the northeast, on the opposite side of an intervening hill. Originally, the company planned to install a complete and separate coal plant at this distant point, to be reached by building a railroad spur through a tunnel in the hillside. The tunnel was actually started, and nearly driven through, when it was decided to extend the mine haulage system to the more distant coal and to transport it back to the main plant. Thus the tunnel was completed, but its portal was considerably smaller than what would have been required if it had been built to accommodate standard gauge railroad locomotives and cars.

With the tunnel completed, a forty-four inch rail line, of about two miles in length, using forty-pound rails, was constructed to the mine openings. The early haulage system that ran on this line used two fifteen-ton Goodman two-motor type electric locomotives. One thousand tons of coal could usually be hauled within six hours by one locomotive. Normally, on each trip, one Goodman locomotive could handle thirty two-ton loaded cars.

The mine named Prudence was located 1/4 mile from the tipple. It apparently "turned off" from inside the tunnel that was constructed through the hillside. The mines named Lyman were the next closest mines to the tipple, being located about 1-1/4 miles distant, located about 0.6 miles southwest of Sanger, along a branch of Meadow Fork. The mine named Jones was located about 2-1/2 miles from the tipple, about 1/2 mile northeast of Sanger, along a branch of Meadow Fork. The USGS County Survey for Fayette County indicated there was also a mine named "Blue Jay" that was operated by the Prudence Coal Company but the West Virginia Dept. of Mines records do not indicated this mine ever produced any coal.


Prudence tipple


Prudence tipple and power house


Prudence company store and boarding house


Goodman electric locomotives at Prudence mine
Motor house at Prudence mine
Goodman electric locomotive at Prudence mine
Miners at the Prudence mine
Goodman cutting machine at the Prudence mine


Map of Prudence and Vicinity

View a larger version of this map