Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tunnel between Twin Branch and Davey in the coal fields of WV

I had been chatting with Patty Ament about her mother's memory of having walked through the tunnel from Twin Branch to school.  It struck a chord with me because I remember hearing my mother-in-law's story about the same thing.  Yesterday my mother-in-law had a very good day and we spent the afternoon talking about her years in the coal fields.  I asked her about the tunnel.  She said that there was a tunnel between Twin Branch and Davey.  It was a long way to go around the mountain to get from one town to the other.  The tunnel made the walk MUCH shorter!  So she would put her ear down to the train tracks to listen for a train, and if she didn't hear one, she would walk through the tunnel.  Here is what I wrote yesterday after chatting with Sue about the tunnel:
So I asked her about the tunnel today while I sat with her.  She was very lucid, so I believe that her memory on this is OK.  She said that there were two tunnels.  One was between Twin Branch and Davey.  The other was between Twin Branch and Maryville.  She used the tunnel between Twin Branch and Davey quite often.  She said that when she was growing up, the mine that was owned by Fordson Coal Company was called the Twin Branch Mine.  It was good work….plenty of work and the miners prospered.  They would go to Davey to spend their money and there was a row of stores in Davey including several women’s ready wear stores.  So Davey was the “big town” while Twin Branch was more of a place where people lived and worked.  She thought that perhaps Davey had 5000 people….we can probably look that up.  Sue’s family lived in Twin Branch.  Her grandmother whom she loved very much lived in Davey right along the railroad tracks.  Sue said that there was a road along the tracks and then houses all along the road across the road from the tracks.
Sue used the tunnel to visit her grandmother.  She also said that she used the tunnel on the way home from her afterschool job.  She was a babysitter and cook at a very early age for a man who was an electrician in the mine.  She would go home with his kids and watch them until he got home from work and have dinner on the table when he arrived.  
Sue said that sometime in her teenage years the union went on strike at the Twin Branch Mine.  The owners just shut the mine down permanently and the work was gone as well as the money.  I will try to blog this this week…..if you have anything to add, I am happy to add your remembrances.  I will look for a map and photos to add to the post.  marsha

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