Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

U.S. Coal & Coke Company

The United States Coal & Coke Company marked the entry of J. P. Morgan’s United States Steel Company industrial empire into the southern West Virginia coalfields. Outmaneuvering the Philadelphia owners of both the Norfolk & Western Railway and its subsidiary, the Flat Top Land Association property management firm, Morgan used Bank of Bramwell financier Isaac T. Mann as his intermediary. Morgan managed to force the N&W into granting a lease of about 50,000 acres of McDowell County coal-bearing land containing huge reserves of the famed ‘‘smokeless’’ coal from the Pocahontas No. 3 coal seam. Morgan then chartered the U.S. Coal & Coke Company in January 1902 to develop his investment, and operations were soon under way at Gary, south of Welch. Named after Morgan associate Judge Elbert Gary, the sprawling complex of a dozen company towns and coal mines and its 15,000 residents was for decades West Virginia’s most productive coal operation. The company built mines and communities in Lynch, Kentucky, as well, supplying millions of tons of high-quality metallurgical fuel for the steel mills of the U.S. Steel Corporation. USX, successor to the Morgan empire, ceased all its operations in Gary in 1984.

Written by C. Stuart McGehee


  1. Lambie, Joseph T. From Mine to Market: The History of Coal Transportation on the Norfolk & Western Railway. New York: New York University Press, 1954.

  2. McGehee, Stuart. Gary: A First-Class Operation. Goldenseal, (Fall 1988).

  3. Hornick, Mike. United States Coal & Coke Company Begins. Welch Daily News, 6/2/1983.