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Anthracite, the purest form of coal, formed in pockets of the New River Valley millions of years ago. The rise in anthracite mining in the mid to late 1800’s started the shift from surface operations run by farmers and blacksmiths to company-run operations that mined below the surface. By the 1880’s, railroads and other transportation advancements brought more opportunities to send the New River Valley’s coal across the state.
This exhibit will highlight the local mining history in and around Blacksburg, and will explore how it differed from large company-run operations such as the “coal camps” of West Virginia. Mining near Blacksburg primarily occurred on Price and Brush Mountains. Though some of the operations lasted for decades, little physical evidence remains. Learn about the mines, trains, and people that existed in these communities and what this lifestyle meant to local coal miners and their families.