1995 Reunion of Sharples High School and Friends
The Boone County Coal Corp. Story
By Tom Gayhart
Class of '43
[Note: Photo and other links at bottom of page]
THE ALPHA AND OMEGA OF BCCC
Boone County Coal Corporation (BCCC) was formed around 1911 by a group of entrepreneurs, principally lead by Messrs. William J. Clothier & Robert L. Montgomery from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Corporate offices were established in Philadelphia and general offices were in Sharples, WV. About 65,000 acres were purchased extending from Blair Mountain to near Ottawa. Colonel William M. Wiley followed by Mr. Al S. Wilson were the earlier Vice President and on-site General Manager.
BCCC began selling coal from lessee's mines in 1911. Coal mining operations began in 1917 when 51,387 tons were produced. Mine number 1 was established and located at Laurel Creek (Boone County) near Clothier (Logan County). They say the name for the company was intended to be Logan County Coal Corporation, however there was a coal company by that name in Lundale, WV (Logan County), therefore, BCCC was chosen.
Through aggressive corporate management decisions and local conscientious employees, coal mining production facilities were significantly expanded. During this growing period in the 1920's BCCC added at least eleven coal producing locations. In 1926 coal mining production totaled 1,058,614 tons, the largest ever produced in BCCC's history, according to the 1955 Annual Report to the stockholders. It is interesting to note that in 1921 at least 40 coal companies produced about 1,653.000 tons in Boone County.
This annual report lists production totaling 26,176,213 tons starting in 1917 through 1955 - Mine number and location follows:
3 About halfway between Sharples and Monclo
4 One-quarter mile below Androssan, right fork from Monclo
5 One-quarter mile above Androssan
7 & 8 One mile above Androssan. They were located on opposite side of the mountain but shared a common processing facility, commonly called a "tipple".
9 Three-fourths mile from Sharples
12 Sovereign near Blair
During 1923 the Board of Directors authorized expenditures for a new tipple, a complex railroad track system, maintenance shop and other system additions and betterments. Monclo became the center of the mining operations. Expenditures were also made to build a "Club House" rooming and dining facility and a YMCA building in Sharples. There were about 20 permanent residents at the "Club House" and additional rooms for company guests.
BCCC took pride in their approximately 800 employees and families as well as their communities. Housing, various utilities and recreational activities were provided, as well as medical services and medicine. Oh yes, there was a volunteer fire department. The small file engine was kept under the No. 6 store in Sharples. The center of numerous activities for everyone from Monclo, Clothier and Blair was at the facility called the "Y" (short for YMCA).
The "Y" was a three-story building where you could enjoy bowling, use the library and play basketball, billiards and checkers. You could even get a haircut and shoe shine. Movies (date night) were usually shown three nights weekly, if the film was delivered timely by bus. Mine safety meetings were held monthly at the "Y" with prize fighting entertainment. Too, National Guard, Boy and Girl Scout troops, women's club, church (Episcopal) and church activities were available at the "Y".
That's not all, dances, minstrels, stage shows, plays and Christmas pageants were at the "Y". Too, you could "fill-up" your gas tank, get an oil change and enjoy beverages, light food and ice cream. BCCC ended operations in 1956 by its sale to a Texas company.
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When BCCC started up operations they were in desperate need for skilled people After advertising for help & getting no replies they started training program at co. expense; Sent Brice Baldwin to electrical & refrigeration school out of state. They also sent his brother,Shadie, to auto mechanics school. That way they got 2 lifelong employees to fill their needs. There could have been more;but these two are all I know of.
~ Shelby Burgess