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Rush Run (historical)

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1913 USGS map showing Rush Run
Coke ovens at Rush Run mining operation, ca. 1912
1901 C&O track diagram showing Rush Run

Organized on September 3, 1888, the Rush Run Coal and Coke Company was incorporated by F. Howald, J. Fred. Effinger, W. P. Tams, A. S. Lara, E. C. Best, C. M. Figgat. The company listed its main office address as Staunton, VA.

By 1889, the railroad bridge across the New River at Thurmond had been completed, and tracks along the south side of New River had reached the Rush Run mine. A post office was established that same year. Both the PO and the C&O station were named "Rush Run." The mining community's post office closed in 1939. State mining records indicate the Rush Run mine was operated by Rush Run Coal & Coke Company from 1890-1904; New River Smokeless Coal Co. between 1905-1908; New River Collieries Co. from 1909-1910; Scotia Coal & Coke Co. during 1911-1936.

A circa-1896 list of mines operating in the Third Mining District of West Virginia listed the Rush Run Coal & Coke Company as operating the Rush Run mine, a drift mine working the Fire Creek coal seam of 5 feet thickness. The company had 123 workers and F. Howard was superintendent. The New River Smokeless Coal Company was a consolidation formed in 1904, which absorbed the following collieries: Cunard, Brookly, Red Ash, Rush Run, Sun Nos. 1 & 2, Royal, and Lanark Nos. 1 and 2. The company's general offices were located in Rush Run.

A 1906 C&O publication listed the New River Smokeless Coal Company as operating one mine and 92 coke ovens at the railroad's Rush Run station.[1] The company's post office address was Rush Run. An article entitled "Methods of Using Waste Heat" in the July 1905 edition of Colliery Engineer (probably mistakenly) implied that the Rush Run mining operation was using a waste-heat flue system that channeled heat from its battery of coke ovens that would otherwise be wasted.[2] It is possible that the "waste-heat flue system" mentioned was actually a reference to the modified Welsh coke ovens that were in use at the neighboring Red Ash mining operation as documented in a 1900 article published in Mines and Minerals. A mistake of this nature could have easily occurred due to the fact that both the Rush Run and the Red Ash operations were owned by the same company. (See the Red Ash article for details of the Welsh coke ovens that were used at Red Ash.)

In 1907, the New River Smokeless Coal Company passed from the control of Wittenberg interests to the Guggenheims. In 1910 the population of Rush Run was 210 according to the W.Va. Geological Survey (1919). A Fayette County publication of 1911 listed the Scotia Coal Co. as operating the Rush Run mine. During 1910, Rush Run had 85 of 92 coke ovens in operation.[3]

Quoting from the W.Va. Geological Survey (1919) regarding the company's product: "The coal is classified among the 'smokeless' coals and is commercially known as a New River coal. The lump was mostly shipped for steam purposes to large cities having smoke ordinances; some was exported, and a small percentage used for domestic purposes. Most of the slack was coked at the mine. The output of the mine in 1904 was 800 to 1000 tons daily, most of which went to large cities in the East and Middle West. " In regards to the operation of the Rush Run colliery, the same publication states: "The Rush Run mine is located several hundred feet above the railroad grade. From the drift mouth the loaded cars are lowered to the tipple over a sharp inclined plane 1,000 feet long. The descent of the loaded cars brings an equal number of empty cars from the tipple to the mine."[4]

The nationalities of persons employed at the Rush Run & Once More mines, for the year ending June 30, 1913, was as follows: Inside workers included 15 Americans (White); 2 Hungarian; 1 Italian; 10 Lithuanian; and 26 Negroes [sic]. Outside workers included 4 Italians and 10 Negroes [sic]. Outside workers at cokes ovens included 10 Russian workers. The total number of workers employed at the coal operation was 307 workers.

Tipple, power house, and slack bin of the Rush Run mine when being operated by the Scotia Coal & Coke Company

A 1921 list of coal mines in West Virginia cited the Scotia Coal Coal & Coke Company as working two mines at the Rush Run colliery, named Rush Run and "Once More." (Scotia Coal & Coke Co. operated the "Once More" mine during the years 1911-1925.) That same year the company also operating the Brooklyn mine at Finlow (PO) and the Red Ash mine.

In 1923, the Scotia Coal & Coke Company was again listed as operating the Rush Run mine. That year, the Rush Run operation had 146 employees who worked 102 days. The colliery used only machine mining, with four mining machines and eight electric locomotive being used to mine and move the coal. G. H. Caperton was superintendent and H. H. Hick was mine foreman.


Rush Run Mine Disaster

On March 19, 1905, 24 workers were killed in a mine explosion at the Rush Run mine, then being operated by the New River Smokeless Coal Co. The explosion occurred five hours after the mine had ceased operation for the day killing eight men still in the mine. The explosion extended through into the Red Ash Mine, where five men lost their lives. The following day, eleven rescue workers were killed in a second explosion while attempting to reestablish ventilation in the mines.

The force of the first explosion was so great that it destroyed most of the two mines' wooden and masonry brattices. The force at the mouth of the Rush Run mine destroyed some mine track and the drum house and set fore to and consumed repair shop and two shacks, and set fire to the roof of the fan house. It also set fire to the underbrush and trees above the mine, which spread and consumed nearly a mile of trees and brush on the mountainside. The blast blew the the hoisting drum and its supporting timbers down the mine's incline a distance of 500 feet, and the approach to the fan was blown open and the cover of an old air-shaft was blown off. One of the two explosions at the mines set fire to the mines' coal and gob piles.[5]

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

Exploring Rush Run

The (bottom) area of Rush Run is accessible to hikers via the Brooklyn-Southside Junction Trail or from the Thurmond-Minden Trail via either the Southside Junction Connector Trail or the Arbuckle Connector Trail


Sources

[1] Chesapeake & Ohio Railway: Official Industrial Guide and Shippers' Directory (1906) via Google Books
[2] "Methods of Using Waste Heat" in Colliery Engineer via [Google Books]
[3] Annual Report of the Department of Mines for the Year Ending June 30, 1910 via Google Books
[4] County Reports and Maps: Fayette County (1919) via Google Books
[5] "Rush Run Mine Explosions" in Mines and Minerals (1906) via Google Books