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I did not work at Ethel, so I called a man that was born and grew up there. He also worked there. His name is Harold Cagigas, he lives in Logan now.  A large part of this story can be attributed to him. 

To find the Ethel Hollow, there is a stone church on the left of the road. My dad hauled the stone from the depot to the church site, the stone was supposed to have come from Italy. Just below the church on the other side of the creek there were two buildings.  That was where I went to school. About 100 yards below the school in a long curve a hollow turns to the right. That was where Ethel Hollow begins.  All the houses are gone, Massie Coal Company is preparing a new mine there now.

Ethel was started before 1921 because I was six years old and I recall being down to the State Road and watching a large number of men going toward Blair Mountain, carrying guns, one of the older boys said they were going to war.

In 1922-3 my dad was working there, I had started school there, the school house was a three room house, all the rooms were in line so the teacher could see all of us.

We had one drop cord per room and that was the extent of our electricity.  The day we moved over the hill and into the new house, we got the furniture set up and it was getting dark, Mom looked around for a light and realized we didn't have electricity, looked Pop in the eye and "Charley, you have moved us out of civilization."

My dad was barn boss and delivered groceries from the store to the customer's houses, also he was expected to act as a veterinarian, this was before the U.M.W.(union).  At the end of shift he was to see the superintendent. Mr. Kent (super) was waiting in the office an when Pop went in he asked Pop to sit down.  Kent said "Charley, I am sorry tell you but I have to tell you that you are going to have to take a cut in your pay." Pop said "Is my working hours going to be cut too?" Kent said "No, we have to have the mules ready to go or we can't run any coal." Pop said "Mr. Kent, I can't do that." Mr. Kent said "Charley, I have already taken one cut and now will have to take another one." Pop stood up and said "Mr. Kent, you do what you think is best for you, I won't work the same hours for less." With that Pop laid the keys on the desk and said "You had better get someone to have the mules ready in the morning."  I never worked at Ethel but my brother, Homer, did.

As far as I can find, The Cleveland Cliff Iron Co. opened and worked the mine the mine for several years and the next owner was a man named Prichard and when he quit a man named L.L. Burns owned it for a few years. The mine was in the Chilton seam of coal and that was a high quality coal, I believe it is worked out now.

The camp was about 200 - 250 houses, it consisted of 2 churches, a movie theater, a pool room, barber shop and store, maybe other things that Harold couldn't remember.  Ethel is about 6 miles north east of Logan, W.V. on Rt 17. The mine site is about 1 or 1 1/2 miles from Rt 17.  There are several openings from the surface in to the seam of coal.

As well as I can remember, the houses had electricity for lights but I don't remember any appliances, the water was a line that ran along beside the houses and a spigot every 2 houses in the 20's.  The company used mules and ponies to transport the coal to the out side at that time but they changed to electricity and locomotives later.

The coal business got in a slump and there was not a lot of minable coal left and the number of employee's was not very large in the 1950's. Either the Land company or the mining company began letting people tear the empty houses down. Later the land company would sell the houses for $50 if the buyer would move the houses off the land.  In 1961 the L.L. Burns coal company shut down. The Land company began giving the houses away if the man would move the house off the property.

The Dal-Tex mine of the Arch Mineral Company had mined the coal by strip mine up to their permit limit. In the 1990's, they applied for a permit to strip mine the coal between Monclo and Ethel.  As I understand that situation, the Dal Tex mine was non-union. The U.M.W.A. didn't want the coal company to destroy the battle ground of the 1921   mine war "Battle of Blair Mountain." For many years the union has used that story as a rallying story to illustrate the expansion of the mine workers union, (The union organizers wanted to go through Logan to organize mines in Mingo County).

The coal company used the arguable point that with out a permit, the company would have to leave W.V.and about 300 jobs would be lost. The union said that they wanted to use the land for a memorial park for the union struggles and as a tourist attraction.

The coal company realized the machinery was rusting away while the were making payments on the machinery so they moved the machinery to the state of Wyoming where they had permits to mine coal. The union people came off the   hill and I don't know that the first survey for the million dollar park has ever been done. The union did have a couple of marble slabs set at the Chief Logan State Park at Henlawson.

Two or three months ago, Massy Coal co started preparing a mine on the right side of Ethel Hollow

Ethel, WV
By Hassel Browning and Harold Cagigas
May 2001

This page was last updated on: 4/7/02