Hoff's Aliner Travels
A Travel Blog for US and Canadian Parks with Geological Notes

New River Gorge National Park, SC

As the New River created the gorge, it cut through 4 seams of high quality bituminous coal. The coal was not economically feasible to extract at the time because boats could not get through the rapids and waterfalls. When the railroad was built in 1873, the area boomed with over a 100 coal companies and a mine every half mile along the river. At least 15 million tons were extracted from just 1900 to 1920. Ten to 15 percent of this was converted to coke on site before being shipped out to steel mills. One mine alone had 200 coke ovens. Today the boom towns are gone and Thurmond is no longer the most lucrative stop on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. The best views of the old mining equipment are on the trails of the Nuttalburg but the road was closed due to erosion.

Geology of New River Gorge National Park


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