Billion Dollar Coalfield


Follow the N&W’s main line, branch lines, and spurs as the railway hauls coal from West Virginia’s McDowell County, – the heart of the “Billion Dollar Coalfield”

NWHS member, Alex Schust, tells the story of the first 100 years of the industrialization of McDowell County by following the N&W as it tunneled through Coaldale Mountain to reach the mining operations on Elkhorn Creek in 1888, through the construction of the last major mining operation at Munson, WV in 1947.

Schust uses the necessary quartet of land ownership, coal operators, railroad and labor to provide a record of coal mining in McDowell County. But more than that, he tells why Pocahontas Coal became the world standard and the role the N&W played in making it so.

While “Billion Dollar Coalfield” is a book about coal mining it will become the railfan’s indispensable guide to the N&W in McDowell County. Schust uses over 10 years of research and N&W siding agreements, engineering drawings, coal contracts, correspondence and other material to write about coal mining along the N&W main line from Maybeury to Wyoming, along with operations on North Fork, Dans, Kings, Tug Fork, Sand Lick, Superior, Twin Branch, Spice Creek, Clear Fork, Dry Fork, Caretta, and Jacobs Fork Branch lines and their spurs and extensions.

Besides technical and contractual data to produce an industrial history, Schust uses diaries, letters, interviews and articles to flavor the history with the thoughts of the people who made it!

Hardcover with 640 pages, 516 B/W photographs, 102 maps and includes letterheads from 47 of the original companies in the coalfield.

Billion Dollar Coalfield SKU# 138.144 $75.00