The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Whipple, West Virginia

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Whipple was developed as a company owned mining town in the early 1900s by the Whipple Colliery Company. The company operated on a lease of about 1,100 acres and mined the Sewell seam of 4' to 6' thickness reached by a 440' shaft in depth. The Whipple Colliery Company was incorporated on Jan. 19, 1901. Original incorporators of the company were Justus Collins, Lucy Collins, G.P. Daniels, C.W. Hardy, and W.H. Stephenson. Shipment of coal from the Whipple mine began during the year ending June 30, 1903. In 1905 the Whipple mining operation was sold to The White Oak Fuel Company. The Whipple mine was operated by The White Oak Fuel Company during 1906-1935. From 1936-1957 The New River Company Company operated the Whipple mine.

Whipple Mine Explosion

On May 1, 1907 an explosion at the Whipple mine killed 16 workers. Fourteen persons died immediately following the explosion and two others died as the result of burns, after being admitted to the McKendree Hospital.

For details of the Whipple explosion see the article: Whipple Mine Explosion

The Whipple Coal Plant

The engine house, boiler house, and car repair shop of the Whipple operation were built of white-sandstone with arches over the doors and windows built of red brick. The white-sandstone was from the immediate vicinity of the mine and was used because it was less expensive than building the structures entirely with brick. The tipple was a steel frame building covered with corrugated iron, 38 feet wide by 145 feet in length. The head frame or tower was also of steel construction, 53 feet in height from top of the shaft to the center of the sheave wheels. The Dec. 11 and 18, 1919 edition of Coal Age claimed the Whipple tipple was the first steel erected in the New River coal field. The daily output of the tipple was 600 tons of coal.

The original Whipple tipple used two sets of screens and chutes for screening and loading the coal into the railroad cars. One set was arranged so that by operating the proper flys,levers, etc. there can be loaded into either box cars or gondolas the following grades of coal: lump or run of mine on track No. 1; lump run of mine egg or egg and nut on track No. 2; egg nut or nut and slack on track No. 3; and slack or nut and slack on track No. 4. The other set has only a single screen and is arranged so as to load lump or run of mine into box or gondola cars on either tracks No. 1 or No. 2 and the slack loaded into cars on track No. 4.

The Whipple plant was laid out and designed to accommodate batteries of coke ovens and the tipple's two sets of screens and chutes were also arranged so that the slack could be taken by a conveyer to a storage bin where larries could be loaded for charging coke ovens. However, coke ovens were never built at the Whipple coal plant.


Map of Whipple and Vicinity

View a larger version of this map

Whipple's Rail Outlet

Coal was shipped from the Whipple mining operation via a branch line railroad that connected with the Loup Creek Branch of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) at Glen Jean. The line was originally built by the Glen Jean, Lower Loup & Deepwater Railroad which was completed in 1900. In 1901 the line was acquired by the C&O Railway and named the White Oak Branch.

Lowell Thomas' Underground Broadcast from Whipple Mine

lowell_thomas_2_450.thumb.jpg   On May 31, 1934, NBC broadcaster Lowell Thomas broadcast his popular radio program from 600 feet underground inside the Whipple mine. Two female guests with Thomas were not allowed to enter the mine due a common belief among miners of the era that a female entering the mine would cause a disaster to occur.
Whipple Company Store, ca. 1960s
1911 map showing Carlisle, Whipple, and Oak Hill
Tipple and power house of the Whipple mining operation, circa 1904
Drawing of tipple and power house, Whipple Colliery Co.

Whipple tipple, ca. 1950s


The tipple of the Whipple coal plant, while operated by the New River Company
Engine room and head frame of the Whipple coal plant
Whipple mining operation, ca. 1906
Tipple of the Whipple mine, ca. 1920