Blue Heron, or Mine 18, is an abandoned coal mining town and was a part of the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company's past operation. The Blue Heron mines operated from 1937 until December, 1962, when operations were no longer profitable. During that time, hundreds of people lived and worked in this isolated community on the banks of the Big South Fork River. Their story is the the story of Blue Heron.
When the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company abandoned Blue Heron in 1962, the buildings were either removed or lapsed into decay. As a result there were no original buildings standing when the community was "re-created" in the 1980's. Built as an outdoor museum the new structures are open, metal shells of buildings, referred to as "ghost structures" built on the approximate site of the original buildings and were made as close to the original size and orientation as possible.
The depot also provides the opportunity to introduce visitors the "voices" of Mine 18.
You may visit the Blue Heron Photo Gallery to view a number of historic photographs of not only Blue Heron, but also Stearns and other mining towns owned by the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company.
Did You Know?
In the 1960's Congress requested the Army Corps of Engineers to study the feasibility of damming the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River just above the Devils Jump Rapid to create another reservoir. Had that happened Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area would never have existed.