Why a Coal Museum?
Because coal is to Big Stone Gap and the entire Appalachian region what
automobiles are to Detroit, corn is to Kansas and oil is to Texas.
Because coal mining, to a large extent, defines the area--how people live,
where they work, and how they think and feel. The Coal Museum was put
together, bit by bit and piece by piece, from the mini treasure troves and
memorabilia of private homes and public buildings from Big Stone Gap and
surrounding towns. For natives, the museum attempts to describe a
personal heritage as well as provide a peek into the past. For others,
it offers a rich educational experience concerning coal and its direct
influence on local lifestyle.
How the Coal Museum Came About
The people at Westmoreland Coal Company, museum owners, have understood
for a long time that a coal museum would be a valuable and worthwhile
project. Plans were initiated several years ago and the search for
artifacts got underway.
In 1972, a big step was taken with the purchase of the property that once
served as the library and study of John Fox, Jr., a famed author of THE
TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE and other folk classics. The building has
been completely renovated for the purpose of housing the museum, but great
care was taken to retain the authenticity of the original structure and
maintain respect for the past.
Hours of Operation
Wednesday - Saturday 10:00 - 5:00
Sunday 1:00 - 5:00
Monday - Tuesday Closed,
however, special arrangements can be
made if you telephone in advance.
East Third and Shawnee Avenue
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219
Harry W. Meador, Jr. Coal Museum
Owned by Westmoreland Coal Company
Operated by The Big Stone Gap Parks and Recreation Department
Harry W. Meador Jr.
Founder of The Coal Museum
Harry W. Meador, Jr. to whom this museum is dedicated, was
a tireless advocate of the coal-mining industry in general, and of the
Westmoreland Coal Company in particular. He began his career in 1949 as a
union laborer. He joined Westmoreland management as an assistant
superintendent, and advanced through numerous managerial positions to Vice
President of Eastern Operations in 1969, and finally to Vice President of
Coal Development in 1978, his responsibility at the time of his death in
From concept to operation, Mr. Meador was the coal museum.
His love of coal-mining and its history are evident throughout, as he
personally collected, catalogued and displayed nearly every exhibit. A tour
of the museum with him was an enlightening experience-he could speak with
authority as to the use and significance of each item.
E .B. (Ted) Leisenring, Jr., Chairman of the Board of
Westmoreland Coal Company, speaking at the dedication ceremony in September
1982 said it all: "I think Harry Meador would like best to be remembered as
a Coal Miner, with every proud attribute that goes with that name."