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The Harry W. Meador, Jr. Coal Museum

Why a Coal Museum?

Because coal is to Big Stone Gap and the entire Appalachian region what automobiles are to Detroit, corn is to Kansas and oil is to Texas.  Because coal mining, to a large extent, defines the area--how people live, where they work, and how they think and feel.  The Coal Museum was put together, bit by bit and piece by piece, from the mini treasure troves and memorabilia of private homes and public buildings from Big Stone Gap and surrounding towns.  For natives, the museum attempts to describe a personal heritage as well as provide a peek into the past.  For others, it offers a rich educational experience concerning coal and its direct influence on local lifestyle.

How the Coal Museum Came About

The people at Westmoreland Coal Company, museum owners, have understood for a long time that a coal museum would be a valuable and worthwhile project.  Plans were initiated several years ago and the search for artifacts got underway.

In 1972, a big step was taken with the purchase of the property that once served as the library and study of John Fox, Jr., a famed author of THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE and other folk classics.  The building has been completely renovated for the purpose of housing the museum, but great care was taken to retain the authenticity of the original structure and maintain respect for the past.


Hours of Operation
Wednesday - Saturday 10:00 - 5:00
Sunday 1:00 - 5:00
Monday - Tuesday Closed,
however, special arrangements can be
made if you telephone in advance.

East Third and Shawnee Avenue
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219

Telephone: 276-523-9209

Harry W. Meador, Jr. Coal Museum
Owned by the Town of Big Stone Gap
Operated by The Big Stone Gap Parks and Recreation Department




Harry W. Meador Jr.
Founder of The Coal Museum

Harry W. Meador, Jr. to whom this museum is dedicated, was a tireless advocate of the coal-mining industry in general, and of the Westmoreland Coal Company in particular. He began his career in 1949 as a union laborer. He joined Westmoreland management as an assistant superintendent, and advanced through numerous managerial positions to Vice President of Eastern Operations in 1969, and finally to Vice President of Coal Development in 1978, his responsibility at the time of his death in 1981.
From concept to operation, Mr. Meador was the coal museum. His love of coal-mining and its history are evident throughout, as he personally collected, catalogued and displayed nearly every exhibit. A tour of the museum with him was an enlightening experience-he could speak with authority as to the use and significance of each item.
E .B. (Ted) Leisenring, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Westmoreland Coal Company, speaking at the dedication ceremony in September 1982 said it all: "I think Harry Meador would like best to be remembered as a Coal Miner, with every proud attribute that goes with that name."