Madison Coal Museum

*photo from

boone county courthouse.jpgThe Coal Heritage Museum, located at 347 Main Street in Madison, has an interactive display offering a glimpse of how coal was mined in the early days of the mining industry.  The 2000 square for display includes a simulated company store, a miner’s home, and a locker room where miners changed for work and an area where visitors can get a feel of underground mining. The focus of the interpretative display comes from several themes and includes mining methods, company stores and towns, unions and strife, disasters and the legacy of the coal industry.  The highlight of the museum is the interactive part of the coal mine where you have a pick, auger or drill and a shovel.  This allows kids to participate and feel physically what it was like to be a coal miner.

Boone County is named for Daniel Boone, the famous hunter and explorer, and was created by the Virginia General Assembly on March 11, 1847. John Peter Salley was the first Englishman to explore what is now called Boone County. He is credited for the discovery of coal in the state. The discovery was made near the town of Peyton along the Coal River in 1742.

More than 100 years would pass before coal would come to the attention of investors.  Then in 1845, several companies did become interested in the coal deposits along Big Coal River from Dartmont to Peyton.  They soon formed the Coal Navigation Company which locked and dammed the river so steamboats could come up as far as Peyton. Active mining operations began in 1847. The coal was then shipped to points on the Kanawha River and other places where coal oil was distilled from it. Mining continued until 1884, when it became commercially unprofitable to produce coal oil because kerosene had become cheaper to purchase.

An interesting sidelight of the early mining industry is the fact that it brought to this area an influx of diverse ethnic groups. Most of the miners were Irish with a sprinkling of English and Scots.

After the initial years of mining ceased, timbering became the principal industry, beginning about 1885 and continuing until 1900 when prime usable timber became scarce.

With the building of the railroad into the county, the coal industry experienced a come back and remains the states number one coal producing county.  Coal Mining is Boone County’s greatest economic resource.  In 2003, Boone County underground and surface operations produced more than 29,674,000 tons of coal.

 While visiting Boone County you will want to visit the Courthouse. Constructed in 1921 on a hillside, the building is located in a small square just above State Street in the town of Madison. The Boone County Courthouse is a stately, monumental, three-story building designed in Neo-Classical Revival.  A Sentinel stands on the courthouse lawn and honors all Boone County coal miners. 

There are a number of recreational activities available in Boone County. Waterways, a water themed park has become one of southern West Virginia’s most visited recreational sites.   The water park has all the ingredients for a day of fun and relaxation. Activities include water slides, a lazy river and a swimming pool.  Located just off Corridor G, near Julian, the Waterways Park also has many other activities including a go-kart track, a 3-D archery range, picnic shelters and a miniature golf course.     For more information about Waterways call 304-369-6125 or link on to

If you want to spend some time off the beaten path, one of the most recognized tourist attractions in Boone County is the Little Coal River Trails segment of the Hatfield-McCoy  Trail system. An ATV ride on the Hatfield and McCoy Trail is a unique journey that allows you a chance to enjoy natural beauty, a sense of history and brings out your sense of adventure. ATV and dirt bikers of all ages are sure to have the thrill of a life time. For more information on the Hatfield-McCoy Trail call 1-800-592-2217 or check out their web site at

For a list of places to visit while in Boone County visit

  • Information Courtesy of Coal Valley News