Saturday, November 8, 2008

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

I grew up in the Beckley area and remember going to New River Park, where the exhibition coal mine is located, often when I was growing up. We'd go swimming in the pool, have picnics, swing and play. We had quite a few school picnics there.

I might have gone into the mine when I was younger, but I don't remember it. My first memory of going into the mine itself was my first year of college at Beckley College (now called Mountain State University).

As an aside, how annoying is it when a place you used to go to school changes its name? Beckley College is now Mountain State University. Concord College is now Concord University. Sometimes progress really bugs me!

Anyway, a couple of friends and I decided to go into the Haunted Mine that they were having during the Halloween season. It was late at night and a perfect West Virginia October evening. It was nice and cool outside and even colder down in the mine itself!

We got on a coal cart and I remember I was on the very back facing backwards. The mine was, of course, dark and decorated for Halloween. The guide was telling spooky stories about the mine and once in a while a ghost or monster would jump out of the darkness! I remember screaming and actually kicking out at the ghouls as they came my way!

That is one of my best memories of the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.

This summer they unveiled the renovations they have done to the Beckley ECH and my mom and I made a brief stop there in between shopping stops around town. I didn't spend as much time in it as I wanted, but I did end up buying some things from the gift shop.

I was very impressed with the changes in the museum/gift shop and the addition of all the buildings that were brought from coal camps around Southern West Virginia. My mom has toured some of the homes. They are decorated in all their splendor for the holidays. I hope to make it there to seem them soon.

I'm really proud of Beckley for bringing this important history to life. With attractions like the Exhibition Coal Mine and the very impressive Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia, it's no wonder more and more people are making time to visit the Mountain State!

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