Overlooking New River Gorge, Kaymoor One was one of the biggest of the many coal mines that dot this part of West Virginia. Abandoned in the 1960s, it’s now overrun by vegetation, but accessible to hikers interested in the region’s history.
From 1900 to 1962, the mine drew workers from across the country, mainly African Americans from the South and European immigrants, who lived in a company town of more than 100 houses and dug up some 16 million tons of coal. The site has multiple levels, which workers and families once traversed via a steam-powered “mountain haulage,” and that contained company housing and stores, the area by the river where coal was processed and transported out on trains, and the bench level, where most of the mining was done.
Despite being abandoned decades ago, Kaymoor remains intact and full of buildings and equipment characteristic of West Virginia’s mining history. A one-mile hike takes visitors to the site’s upper level, and an 821-step staircase built by the National Park Service leads to mining buildings, mining equipment, and remnants of the tracks used to transport people, coal, and machinery up and down the mountainside. If you look carefully, you can still spot some pieces of coal.
Know Before You Go
The hike begins at the Kaymoor Miners Trailhead. Between elevation change and the staircase, the walk is fairly strenuous.