By Katherine Skeldon
January 19, 2022 - The 60th anniversary of the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine is bringing in more than the typical winter-time preventative safety maintenance, but rather, an extensive project that will ensure the security of the mine for the next 50 years.
After forming a partnership with Jennmar and Affinity Coal, the project is not only enhancing the mine’s safety but will further improve education opportunities.
“We’re even looking to the future, some new things we might do, new pieces of mining equipment so that people who visit us will really understand that the coal industry is still a viable industry, we still have people working in the industry and mining coal, because so many of our visitors that come think mining is a thing of the past,” says Leslie Baker, Executive Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Beckley.
The project includes new rib bolts, new medal straps, and headers, a replacement of wooden cribs customary of older mines, along with a piece of longwall machinery for guests to see what goes on in West Virginia coal mines today.
With the help of the National Park Service, the exhibition coal mine will be ready to show off the updated mine to the oncoming visitors the new season will bring.
“We are going to do our part for tourism but I think the National Park’s really going to be the ones working to boost attendance, and we’re just so glad we are going to be ready for them,” Baker says. “We are going to be right there with them presenting the best of what we are and really being able to inform about the unique culture and heritage of the coal region.”
Baker says the last time the mine underwent major work was in the ’80s and ’90s, the project will bring it into the 21st century.
The project is expected to be complete within a little over a month, just in time for the new season at the exhibition coal mine that starts April 1.