Company towns like the Stonega coal camp near the town of Appalachia, Virginia included the mine and related mining facilities, as well as houses, a commissary (company store), and amusement hall. All was owned by the company. The company towns doubled as a way to attract and support workers and as a means to subject employees and their families to company control.
Due to the increased affordability of automobiles and the expansion of public transportation, company towns like Stonega fell increasingly out of fashion in the early twentieth century. Workers no longer needed to live as close to the coal mines. Company towns further declined after New Deal reforms that strengthened unions, raised wages, and made homeownership more affordable.
What do you imagine life was like for mining families and company managers in a coal town like Stonega? What sort of problems might exist between the company and the community?
What do you suspect was the relationship between the mining companies, organized labor, and government regulators in the company towns?
Stonega Coal Mines and Company Camp, 1915-1930. Westmoreland Coal Company photograph and video collection (Accession 1993.233), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807.
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