The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Turkey Knob, West Virginia

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Turkey Knob was developed as a company owned mining town in 1893 on a 700 acre lease of coal land owned by Thomas McKell. The mining operation was located along Turkey Knob Branch, a very short steam that is right-hand tributary to Dunloup Creek. The summit of the hill just south of the town of Turkey Knob, at an elevation of 2250 ft., was locally known as Turkey Knob during the early-1900s. Local tradition claims the sandy, bowl shaped knob was so named because it was a favorite hunting spot used by locals for wild turkeys. Mount Hope High School school rings, ca. 1933, depicted a scene of the sun rising above Turkey Knob.

The coal company was first organized as the Turkey Knob Coal Company which was chartered on Aug. 28, 1893. This company was purchased later that same year by a group of investors who in turn organized the Turkey Knob Coal & Coke Company. Investors in the mining operation included C.C. Beury (brother of Colonel Joseph L. Beury), George Lawton (a cousin of the Beury brothers), W.A. Brown, and W.J.R. Zimmerman.

The Turkey Knob mining operation began shipping coal in 1894 shortly after the completion of the Loup Creek Branch of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway from Thurmond to Macdonald. First shipments of coal occurred in the year ending 1895. The Turkey Knob mining operation later became part of the New River Company.

Remains of coke ovens at Turkey Knob
   By 1901, the Turkey Knob coal plant had 100 coke ovens in operation. The coke ovens were built using Lower Guyandot Sandstone that was quarried at the mine site. Some of the coke ovens at Turkey Knob have survived at least to the time of this writing (2012). According to Rev. Cecil Paxton, long time resident of of Mount Hope, during the Great Depression, when many of the ovens were idle, severals families of homeless persons lived in the coke ovens at Turkey Knob.

By 1906, the daily capacity of the company's coal plant was 600 tons of coal. The company owned nearly 100 houses which were rented to their employees. C. C. Beury was the president of the company.

Map Showing the Turkey Knob Lease

The 1925 map below shows how far back the Turkey Knob lease extended to the east towards Garden Ground Mountain. Much of the lands of the Turkey Knob operation are now part of the The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scouting Reserve.

Map showing coal lands of the Macdonald mining operation. Click map to view an enlarged version.

Map of Turkey Knob and Vicinity

View a larger version of this map

Young tipple worker of the Turkey Knob Coal & Coke Co.
Tipple of the Turkey Knob Coal & Coke Co., 1908
Tipple crew at Turkey Knob mine, 1908

Photos & Maps

1894-95 map showing the first mining towns established in the Loup Creek Coal Field
USGS map of the Turkey Knob area showing the expansion of the mining industry that had taken place by 1911
1906 photo showing the tipple and a few of the coke ovens at the Turkey Knob coal plant
Photo showing the Turkey Knob tipple as it looked in 1919

Photographs taken in 1908 at Turkey Knob by Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC).

Bank boss stands in front of slate fall that blocked mine entrance, 1908
Young trapper boy at Turkey Knob mine, 1908
Mule drivers and trapper boys at the Turkey Knob mine, 1908