The mine site of Kaymoor One was once one of the most successful and highest producing mines in New River Gorge. Over its history, Kaymoor mined millions of tons of coal and was home to hundreds of people. It is currently one of the most intact mine complexes remaining in the New River Gorge.
The Low Moor Coal founded Kaymoor in 1900. The company wanted to use Kaymoor's coal and coke to fuel the iron furnaces the company operated. Low Moor Coal named Kaymoor after John Kay, the man appointed to construct the town. He would go on to serve as the first superintendent for the Kaymoor One Mine. Kaymoor had two town centers. Kaymoor Top was at the ridgeline above the mine. Kaymoor Bottom was near the river alongside the railroad track. On the side of the gorge, near the middle, was the mine itself.
Kaymoor One shipped its first shipment of coal on August 23rd, 1900. Chesapeake & Ohio Railway cars carried 58,900 pounds of coal from the mine. The mine would go on to set a blistering production pace for shipping coal. In its first year it produced 64,800 long tons of coal. A long ton, the common measurement of the time, was about 2,240 pounds of coal. Throughout its 62-year operation span, Kaymoor One produced 16,904,321 tons of coal. That's enough coal to completely fill 18 Empire State Buildings!
A Successful Mine
Kaymoor One was so successful that in 1903 Low Moor would establish another mine. Kaymoor Two was further north along the coal seam, close to where the current day town of Fayetteville is. Both sites continued to serve Low Moor iron furnaces until 1925. That same year, Low Moor sold the mines to the Pocahontas Consolidated Coal and Coke Company for $1,001,000.
Kaymoor also had a reputation as one of the better mines to work at. In 1902, Kaymoor paid its miners the normal market rate of $0.50 per ton of coal for pick miners. Machine miners received around $2.25 per day. Kaymoor never had a mine explosion accident. Other towns in the gorge such as Red Ash suffered from explosions that caused disasters. Kaymoor's main dangers were rock falls, fires, and electrocution. Kaymoor management set rules to prevent miners from excessively drinking. The rules went so far as to order superintendents to not establish any saloons on Kaymoor property!
Miners came from everywhere to work the mines at Kaymoor. Experienced miners from neighboring states found new work at Kaymoor. African-Americans from the South and immigrants from European countries came to build a new life. Kaymoor employed more than 800 workers during peak production.
Kaymoor's heyday began to wane into the 1940s. The demand for coal decreased after World War II. The mine began to exhaust the seam it mined, so production at Kaymoor also started to slow down. The town around the mine also started dying out as the advent of easily accessible cars. Miners were now able to commute in rather than living in a town near the mine. Kaymoor One's final production year was 1961. It shipped a meager 10,515 tons of coal, a far cry from its first shipment. Kaymoor One finally closed down completely in 1962.
On December 30th, 1985, the Berwind Land Company donated 53 acres at Kaymoor to the National Park Service. The land included the area around the haulage, headhouse, conveyer, tipple and coke ovens of Kaymoor One. The park also purchased the surrounding 1,375 acres of the mine site from the Berwind Land Company on December 19th, 1989. On November 8th, 1990, the National Park Service added Kaymoor One to the National Register of Historic Places.
Please remember that Kaymoor is a nationally significant, protected historic site. Please help us preserve it. Do not remove or deface any artifacts. Report any acts of vandalism to a park ranger or the local authorities at 304-465-0508.
The Kaymoor Trail is 2 miles of moderate hiking one way. It starts from the Wolf Creek Trailhead off Fayette Station Road. The trail winds up about 350 feet of elevation change and along the middle of the gorge. It connects with the Kaymoor Miners Trail at the mine entrance. From the mine site, 821 wooden steps continue down to the of the coal processing plant, coke ovens, and Kaymoor Bottom town site near river level.
To get to the Wolf Creek Trailhead, take US-19 to Lansing-Edmond Road, north of Canyon Rim Visitor Center. In 0.4 miles, turn right at the brown park sign for Fayette Station Road. Bear left and uphill at the fork to continue onto Fayette Station Road. The road will become a one-way road. Follow the one-way Fayette Station Road to the bottom of the gorge. Cross the New River on the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge and continue for 1.2 miles to the small parallel parking area at the trailhead. There are specific "No Parking" areas near the trailhead. Please observe and obey all parking signs.
Driving Advisory: Fayette Station Road is narrow and winding with sharp hairpin turns and a 12-foot clearance bridge. Vehicles over 12 feet in height cannot drive on Fayette Station Road. Large vehicles, RVs, and trailers are not recommended.
Kaymoor Miner's Trail
The Kaymoor Miners Trail starts from the Kaymoor Top trailhead. Be aware, this is a very steep and strenuous trail. Hikers should prepare for this hike, wear good shoes, and bring plenty of water. Hiking poles may be useful. This trail descends steeply 0.5 miles from the top of the gorge. There are rocky stairs and switchbacks on the trail leading to the Kaymoor coal mine site. It meets the Kaymoor Trail at the mine site. From the mine site, 821 wooden steps continue down to the of the coal processing plant, coke ovens, and Kaymoor Bottom town site near river level.
To get to the Kaymoor Top Trailhead from US-19, follow WV-16 south through Fayetteville. Turn left on Gatewood Road (park signs indicates Kaymoor and Cunard). Follow Gatewood Road 2.0 miles, and turn left at the Kaymoor sign (Kaymoor No. 1 Road). Follow this road about one mile to the "T" intersection; turn left. Parking is 50 yards on the right.
Driving Advisory: The parking lot at Kaymoor Top is small and narrow. Large vehicles, RVs, and trailers may not be able to fit in this trailhead parking lot.
More New River Gorge Mining History
Last updated: September 29, 2023