It’s morning, one hundred years ago.
The men are in the mine. Or working the tipple. Or loading the rail cars.
The women are at home with the children. Or teaching school. Or at the company store.
Deep in the New River gorge, coal mining began in 1873 in the remote town that bears the name of its founder, John Nuttall. For more than 80 years, families lived, worked, and died in Nuttallburg. By 1958, it was all over.
All that remains are the ruins. You can still go there, but the trip itself is a harrowing descent down the steep hills that will burn the brakes of your car. And once there, the isolation is eerie. You can see the coal tipple and almost hear its noisy operation echoing through the valley. There’s nothing of the company store other than its foundation. Likewise with the houses that once grew from the hillside. Try to imagine the mothers and kids playing on the dusty paths as they scraped together a life that was as hard as the sandstone their husbands used to build the town. There was probably a doctor to tend to the illness and injuries, and a preacher to tend to those who didn’t recover.
Listen. Hear their voices. They once lived here.
Over at True North Nomad, Lily Burgess writes about her adventures through wild and wonderful Canada. The other day she published a story about a ghost town in Ontario which reminded me of my visits to Nuttallburg. Check out her work.