Located on the south side of the New River Gorge in Fayette County, the company town of Kaymoor, evolved from a mining camp in 1899 into an industrial village. Named after James Kay, its first superintendent, Kaymoor originated as a ‘‘captive’’ mine of the Low Moor Iron Company on lands that had been purchased during the Reconstruction era by A. A. Low, a wealthy New York merchant and financier of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. Production from Kaymoor was destined for the company’s iron furnaces in Low Moor, Virginia.
Rugged terrain dictated the layout of the mines and villages of Kaymoor. Horizontal or drift mine entrances were cut into the cliffside two miles apart and 560 feet above New River. Villages, known as Kaymoor One and Two, arose near the railroad that was down the mountain at river level, and on the rim of the gorge. Thus two distinct living areas developed, one in the river bottom and the other far above. The mines were located on the canyon wall between the two. The layout of the operation required a steep inclined tramway, remembered as the ‘‘haulage’’ by former residents.
Kaymoor was sold on March 1, 1925, to the New River Pocahontas Coal Company. The new owner, a huge international company, shipped Kaymoor coal to the Virginia coast to fuel naval and merchant marine vessels.
Life in Kaymoor resembled that of other coal towns. Miners were recruited from near and far, bringing diverse ethnic and racial groups together. The United Mine Workers slowly gained strength, and a coal town culture emerged that sustained the residents in the smoky industrial village during periods of boom and bust. Its coal seam worked out by 1961, Kaymoor closed in 1962. Now a part of the New River Gorge National River park, Kaymoor’s ruins remain a monument of the industrial era. Kaymoor’s No. 1 mine is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Read the National Register nomination.
This Article was written by Lou Athey
Last Revised on January 24, 2013
Athey, Lou. Kaymoor: A New River Community. Philadelphia: Eastern National Park & Monument Association, 1986.
Athey, Louis L. The Company Store in Coal Town Culture. Labor's Heritage, (Jan. 1990).