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               History Timeline
               Goldenseal Article (History)
               Coalwood Tipple
                  Coalwood Tipple Part 2
               Inside Coalwood Mine
               Post Office
               Robert Popp Essay
               N&W Historic Photos
               More Historic Photos
               Newspaper Clippings
               Coalwood Robins
               Information Needed
               Coalwood: Then & Now
               Steve Date Video
               Casey Gauntt Photos
               Olga Coal Brochure
            October Sky Festival
            Other Places to Visit
                  Big Creek High School
                  Caretta Tipple
               McDowell County
               Pinnacle Rock
               New River Gorge/Bridge
               Observatory/Science Center
               Pipestem Resort State Park
               Mountain Lake, VA
               West Virginia
               USSRC & Space Camp
            Rocket Boys
               The Coalwood Series
               City Book Reads
               Space Quilt
             October Sky
               Filming Locations & Info:
               Oliver Springs
                  Walking/Driving Tour Map
                  2010 Oliver Springs Festival
               Petros TN 1
               PetrosTN 2
               Wartburg TN 1
               Oak Ridge TN
               Harriman TN
               Knoxville TN
               About the Filming
               Press Kit
               Fred Schwendel
               The Making of October Sky
               Filming in Oak Ridge Area
               Filming in Petros
               Coalwood Cookbook
               The Clear Fork Series
               Red Helmet
            Coal Mining
               Old Mines Are Dangerous
               Getting the Coal Out
               Pocahontas Exhibition Mine
               Beckley Exhibition Mine
            Visiting Coalwood
               Coalwood Comm. Church
            Reader Comments
            Contact Us




            New York Times Seeking Info
            From Miners who Retired from LTV in the 1980s

            For a story The New York Times is working on, I would like to interview miners who retired from the mine in Coalwood when LTV was operating it and have worried that their health benefits would be cut. I'm specifically interested in those who might have been affected in 1995 when LTV tried not to pay into the fund established by the Coal Industry Retiree Health Benefits Act of 1992.  My number is 917-453-7047 and my email address is sauls@nytimes.com. Thank you, Stephanie Saul 



            Rocket Boys Festival
            Beckley, West Virginia
            September 26 through 28, 2019
            This is the "original" October Sky Festival and usually features personal visits by some of the Rocket Boys.  In the early years, the Festival was held in Coalwood, but it has since moved to Beckley.
            For details, please see:

            Note: 2019 was the last Rocket Boys Festival
            in Beckley.


            October Sky Festival
            Oliver Springs, Tennessee
            Saturday, October 19, 2019
            Oliver Springs is the filming location of many of the scenes from the movie Rocket Boys.  You won't meet Homer and the other Rocket Boys here, but you'll see a lot of the places you recognize from the movie!
            For details, please see:



            Tesla in Space!
            Congratulations to Elon Musk and the SpaceX Team
            for their launch of a Tesla roadster aboard their Falcoln Heavy rocket.
            On the center console of the car is a plaque reading "Don't Panic!"
            In the glove compartment are a towel and a copy
            of Douglas Adams's book, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.



            Now Available
            Rocket Boys, Spanish Edition!!!!!
            Amazon - Mexico Site (Kindle and Paperback)
            Amazon - USA Site (Kindle and Paperback)
            Amazon - Spain Site (Kindle and Paperback)



            Coalwood Historical Society
            The Coalwood Historical Society maintains a great Facebook page with historic photos
            and current news about Coalwood.



            McDowell County Coal and Rail
            by Jay Chatman
            Book Description: Coal was discovered in McDowell County, located in the Billion Dollar Coalfield of southern West Virginia, in 1748, but it was not explored or mined until the early 1800s. Mill Creek Coal & Coke Company shipped the first railroad car of coal in March 1883 via the Norfolk & Western Railway. By the early 1900s, hundreds of mining companies dotted the county’s landscape. The coal from McDowell County fueled the nation’s home heating and steelmaking businesses and both world wars. As the coal industry developed, the local population grew; by 1950, the county had grown from a few hundred people to more than 100,000. The postcard images in this book show early coal mining and how it progressed throughout the years.
            Author Bio: Jay Chatman, a lifelong resident of McDowell County, was born at home in a coal company house owned by the Lake Superior Coal Company in Superior, West Virginia. He is the current McDowell County Historical Society president, Kimball Rotary Club president, and a US Navy veteran. This book features a portion of Chatman’s 40-year collection of coal and railroad artifacts.
            Order from: Arcadia Publishing, Amazon or BN.

            Note: Coalwood references on pages 43 and 74
            Olga references on pages 77, 78 and 104
            Caretta references on page 76




            The Letter by Steve Date
            (Above) Watch Steve Date's film The Letter.  Homer Hickam describes the film this way: "A beautiful story of love and family from my hometown, Coalwood, West Virginia."    Also, here is Steve Date's sequel video entitled The Other Letter: http://youtu.be/i123FyONmPE   Once you've watched those two videos, you may want to explore Casey Gauntt's website: http://www.WriteMeSomethingBeautiful.com



            This is the West Virginia 150th-anniversary-of-statehood stamp.   The photo was taken by Roger Spencer, a lifelong West Virginia native, in October 2008.  It shows a hazy sunrise scene of mountains in Pocahontas County.  (Click photo to enlarge.)



            Space Quilt
            Did you know that one of the most famous quilts in the world contains a "Rocket Boys" block?  It does!  The Space Quilt by Sue Nickels and Pat Holly is part of the permanent collection of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.  Please click here to read more about this award-winning quilt.



            Oral Histories From The 1970s
            Gathered By Garret Mathews
            "Folks Are Talking" is a double CD that includes 28 oral histories of folks Garret Mathews interviewed as a young feature writer on the Bluefield, W. Va., Daily Telegraph between 1974 and 1979. The mountainous circulation area includes Mercer, McDowell, Wyoming, Monroe and Raleigh counties in West Virginia and Tazewell, Buchanan, Bland, Wythe, Russell and Giles counties in Virginia. It’s rural America. No community in the two-state area has more than 20,000 residents. Some places visited for this collection – Bandy, Rhodell, Jenkinjon.  [Note from webmaster: This is a fascinating history of the area around Coalwood in the 1970s.  If this were a movie, I would rate it PG due to the content of a few of the stories.  You may order the CDs online at www.folksaretalking.com. ]



            Coalwood, West Virginia
            GPS Coordinates:  37.38744, -81.65172



            Interested in rocketry?
            Be sure to visit the USSRC in Huntsville, Alabama!
            Please click here for more information.



            Project Icarus
            You might enjoy the story of the MIT students who mounted a camera in an ice chest, attached it to a weather balloon, and launched the entire thing into near space.  The entire cost of the project was under US$150.00, and the balloon made it to an altitude of 93,000 feet [28,346 meters] before it popped.  The balloon, ice chest and camera made it safely back to earth, and the MIT students now have some amazing photos (like the one above)!  http://space.1337arts.com/



            Postcard: "Highway Over Coalwood Mountain, Looking East, Near Welch, W. Va."
            The postcard we found is postmarked 1934 from Bluefield, West Virginia!




            An old Olga Coal (Carter Coal Company) advertising brochure found on eBay.
            Please click here to read.










            A Flaming Rock!
            This is a very interesting DVD produced by some folks in McDowell County.  (We purchased a copy at the 2007 October Sky Festival.)  The DVD is full of vintage photos and motion pictures from the area.  We particularly enjoyed one of the bonus features that showed the different kinds of mining equipment Joy manufactures.  To order a copy, click here.





            Dan Traveling Videos
            Watch new video on the town of Pocahontas, Virginia.
            Click here to see video.

            See new video on Bramwell, West Virginia.
            Click here to see video.
            See the video on the 2007 October Sky Festival in Coalwood.
            Click here to see video,



            Paying Tribute to Coalwood, West Virginia

            There are fan sites for movie stars and rock stars.  As far as we know, this is the first fan site for a town!


            June 2006: Baxter and Shelby Trail sent us some great photos they took in Petros, Tennessee, in 1998 during the filming of October Sky.  Please click here to see their photos.


            David Goad writes: "Here's a neat picture of Clinton Caton standing at the big drill press in the machine shop at Coalwood.  Some of Homer's rocket parts were made by Clinton on this press." Photo courtesy of the David Goad Collection.


            Coalwood Tipple
            Photo courtesy of the R. Tim Gilley collection;
            Tim attributes it to the David Goad collection. 
            Can anybody date this photo?  If so, please contact us. Thanks!

            Coalwood, West Virginia, is a very special place.  All of us have different ideas and perceptions of Coalwood depending on our backgrounds:

            The people who live in Coalwood today.
            The people who lived and worked in Coalwood.
            The people who know Coalwood through the book Rocket Boys.
            The people who know Coalwood through the movie October Sky.
            Teachers who have planned lessons around Coalwood.
            Students who have learned about Coalwood in their classrooms.
            The people who have visited Coalwood as tourists.


            Fred Schwendel has graciously provided us with five wonderful photos of some of the filming locations for the movie October Sky.  Please click here to see them all.


            We know several people who have been looking for copies of Barbara Hilemon's book
            The Making of Rocket Boys / October Sky
            As Seen Through the Eyes of the Movie Extras

            After months of searching, we finally located Barbara, and she still has copies of the book for sale!    Click here for details.


            This site's webmasters are certainly not experts on Coalwood.  We just thought that Coalwood needed a web site where people around the country and the world can see Coalwood and share their own thoughts.

            We welcome all the fans of Coalwood, West Virginia, to share photographs, stories and memories with us.  Not only does this include Coalwood itself, it also includes photos, stories and memories of the filming of October Sky in east Tennessee.

            Coalwood has made a positive difference in all of our lives.  We hope, with your contributions, this web site will be able to capture some of these feelings.


            Our Favorite Links!

            Homer Hickam's Web Site

            Rafe Esquith's Web Site

            Ron Clark's Web Site


            Coalwood Forever

            "I have been amazed at the people from around the world that have been touched by Coalwood and Homer's books. I see people come to Coalwood, and what we took for granted, the people who visit just can't get enough.  And all the attention that has come from the books and movie only prove that Coalwood was, and is, a special place with special people. Some day, Coalwood will be no more than a few houses with a new generation of people, but I believe that the Coalwood way of life -- what it was and what it is -- will be passed on as long as people like yourselves and myself put the web sites together and keep the history alive for future generations. Like Homer and the people of Coalwood say Coalwood Forever."

            David Goad
            Coalwood Historian


            Most of the pictures on this web site are thumbnails.
            Simply click on a picture to enlarge it.



            Miscellaneous Facts About Coalwood, West Virginia

            Coalwood: in an unincorporated town.
            Coalwood is located in McDowell County, West Virginia.
            Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone (U.S.A.)
            Coalwood's Population (1990 Census): 900.
            Coalwood's Population (2000 Census): Not counted separately.
            Elevation: 1,450 feet
            Telephone Country Code: 1
            Telephone Area Code 304
            Telephone Exchange: 297
            Thus a Coalwood phone number would look like: 1-304-297-xxxx.
            McDowell County's Population (1990 Census): 35,233
            McDowell County's Population (2000 Census): 27,329
            McDowell County's Population (2010 Census): 22,113
            McDowell County's Land Area: 535 sq. mi.


            This site was born October 4, 2005.
            ? Copyright 2005-2017