The Company Store
National Park Service
The store here at Blue Heron was, like that of the other camp stores, a branch of Store #1 in Stearns. This one was built in 1939, two years after the tipple was started. The first store was only an old tool shed, but was added on to several times.
It also served as post office and time keepers office, and it was here the men were advanced company printed or minted money called "scrip". Pay advances could be had in scrip, and then be "worked off" during the next pay period. Some at Blue Heron complained of "owing their souls to the company store", others said it was not a problem.
First, Bill Pryor, who also began the Blue Heron Quartet and then Theodore Childers were the store managers. Mr. Childers recalled that the company let him run the store just like it was his own. Though "scrip" issued at the store allowed workers to buy on credit, when the company closed the store at Blue Heron, people left very little debt behind. Some paid the debt off in the later years.
The store sold nearly everything anyone at camp needed, from shoes and mining gear to food. Simple house dresses could be gotten there and fabric for sewing your own. Jackknives and fishing poles, shotguns and shells for hunting, even sugar some say ended up at the whiskey stills on the ridges were all available at the store.
The store was the hub of economic life for Blue Heron. It was where mining time was kept, where miners were paid, where credit was extended and basic goods were available, and where people got their mail. It served not only those who lived in the camps but others who lived out "on the ridges".
Step into the company store at Mine 18.
To continue your visit through the Blue Heron Mining Community, choose the next "ghost structure" you wish to visit.
Did You Know?
Longhunters were some of the first Europeans to traverse the Big South Fork region. It is said they were called longhunters either for the long rifles they carried or because the were typically gone on hunting trips for so long, sometimes up to a year.