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Coal Country: 1938

Coal Country: 1938

September 1938. Osage, West Virginia. "Mining town. Coming home from school." Medium format nitrate negative by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.


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That echoing refrain of parenthood

Sukie! Don't you be walking on the road, you know the tracks is safer, just listen for the whistle!

Hey you guys

Want to see a dead body?

Did the same thing myself

in the early 1940s in "Idyllic Larkspur, California." Not too many trains by then, but got scared more than once by hobos.

Everyone's Walking

Everyone's walking rather than being driven home -- a big reason why you don't see any chubby kids in that photo.

Contrast that with West Virginia today, which now ranks second in the nation in obesity rates.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter

my mother, Ruby, grew up in Logan, West Virginia, and would have been 12 in 1938. She was a towheaded little girl like the one here. I have never seen a photo of her as a child. This picture lets me imagine that little girl is my mother. Thank you very much for that.

Main Street RR

Osage! I've passed through here all my life. Many of the old company towns have been demolished but much of Osage survives. As with many WV coal towns, macadam and rails share the main passage through town.

You damn kids!

Get offa da tracks, what are ya, an eejit?

Spring or Fall?

What a beautiful composition. You can tell it's either spring or fall because they're all carrying the jackets they were probably wearing that morning when it was cooler out.

[Another clue to the season would be the first word of the caption. - Dave]

Heh - clearly I was so taken with the photo that I didn't read the caption. --H

Down The Road

A photo of a town that is about 10 minutes away from me. Pretty cool.

Over the river

My dad grew up in the 1930s and '40s in West Virginia, where his father was a coal miner. I always imagined him coming home from school almost just like this. His stories included rowing across a river to school as well as walking down railroad tracks. Thanks for posting!


With the possible exception of the paved road, it's striking how much this view of the town resembles the set of "Matewan."


In the Northern WV coalfields.

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