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Consolidated Bus Lines, with offices in Bluefield, served southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southwestern Virginia during the middle part of the 20th century. Consolidated provided an essential service to the busy coalfields, and later became part of a national bus line. Its 1,200-mile system extended from Huntington to Roanoke, Virginia, and provided service to cities and towns such as Charleston, Logan, Welch (its busiest hub), Mullens, Princeton, Williamson, East Rainelle, Beckley, and Pineville; as well as Grundy and Richlands, Virginia, and Pikeville, Kentucky. By 1953, Consolidated Bus Lines employed 337 individuals and operated about 100 buses. In 1952 alone, these buses traveled 5,873,468 miles and carried 7,881,663 passengers.

The company was founded by James Elliott ‘‘Jack’’ Craft, a native of Breathitt County, Kentucky. Largely uneducated, Craft migrated to the coalfields of West Virginia to find work in the mines. After working long enough to repay the coal company his transportation expenses, he worked at different locations throughout the southern coalfields. It was in McDowell County that he fell in love with the great invention of that time, the automobile. Capitalizing on that interest, he started by driving coal company executives on their rounds and in 1921 established a Welch taxi service with a single Model-T Ford. After this proved profitable, he expanded into providing bus service to various coalfield towns. As his business grew Craft acquired other small bus lines, establishing Consolidated in January 1934. On August 1, 1956, Craft sold his business to Virginia Stage Lines, a Trailways affiliate. Bus service was discontinued in most of southern West Virginia by the early 1970s.

This Article was written by Robert Beanblossom


Sources

Craft, James Elliott. Wheels on the Mountain. Parsons: McClain, 1969.

Cite This Article

Beanblossom, Robert "Consolidated Bus Lines." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 30 January 2012. Web. 12 December 2018.

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