Amazing Vintage Photos of West Virginia Coal Mine Life in 1938

West Virginia coal mine life during the 1930s was tough. The Coal companies used the miners to dig the coal, then turned around and rented them company houses and sold goods at the company store. As these photos show, the miners and their families practically worked just to keep alive, while the mine owners made a killing.

Boiling juice of sugarcane into sorghum molasses
Card gambling in center of town
Children of Pauline Clyburn, rehabilitation borrower
Children of riverboat family
Coal miner waiting to go home in friend’s truck
Coal miner’s shack and some of his family
Family on front porch of houseboat on river
Former coal miner, worked twelve years for Chaplin Coal Company as hand coal loader
Many families live on riverboats
Settin’ around

(Photos by Marion Post Wolcott)

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