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Wyoming County

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Wyoming County, created in 1850, derives its name from the Delaware Indian word that translates as “large plains.” In this particularly mountainous region, it could also be translated as “wishful thinking.” The Coal Heritage Trail (West Virginia 16) traverses the county's southern and eastern sections, but West Virginia 10, which traverses it east to west and coincides with West Virginia 16 between Pineville and Itmann, provides a better introduction to the area. Excerpts from the WPA's West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State (1941) described the devastation that the quest for coal and lumber had wrought along this route: “Piles of rotted sawdust attest the herculean labors that ceased with the depletion of the timber.… Smoke and coal dust have long since killed all grass and flowers in the vicinity; dingy houses and an unused coal tipple are surrounded by piles of coal refuse and bare coal-black earth … a pall of smoke and steam [dims] the view of the V-shaped valley and the hills.” Only Kopperston, which the guide called a “model coal camp built by the Koppers Coal Company,” received unstinting praise. Today, nature has covered many of the scars, and a number of coal towns described in the guide have virtually disappeared. Wyoming's population has fluctuated with the economics of coal, from a high of 37,540 in 1950 to 25,708 in 2000.

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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