Life in Kaymoor – A Lost New River Gorge Community
Tucked away in the New River Gorge is the Kaymoor Trail. Leaving from Fayetteville or Oak Hill, the Cunard-Kaymoor Trail is 7 miles (one-way) of moderate to difficult hiking. While the trails are steep, it’s a journey worth taking to experience the glimpse of mining life it offers below. Opened in 1899, the Kaymoor Mine was an important part of industrializing the state. Coal mined at Kaymoor was in excess of what its parent company needed; thus it was sold in the open market during a time of great growth in the southeast. Kaymoor was actually the site of two mines. At the time there were 75 mines between Thurmond and Hawk’s Nest.
According to the National Park Service, life in Kaymoor was said to be among the better of mining communities, with all necessities available. Each of the Kaymoor communities had houses, stores, schools, and even one theater. The communities’ four stores carried all the necessary staples, including flour, sugar, beans, bread, and canned goods. Family homes included four rooms and no running water. Single workers stayed in boarding houses.
The only access to the Kaymoor Bottom communities was the mountain haulage, an open air cart that could carry 15 men at a time or a load of supplies up and down the mountain. The hoist house which moved the haulage is still visible today.
During the time of Kaymoor, Fayette County was the largest coal producer in the state. With only some remnants remaining -- including some foundations and the original Coke ovens – it’s hard to believe what is now so lost was once so thriving.
Have you hiked Kaymoor?