Miners Memorial and Interpretive Signs
The miners memorial is a result of three years effort on the part of the Winding Gulf Restoration Organization, a local non-profit organization based out of Helen. With the help from nearby businesses and organizations, the memorial was finished in the summer of 2007 and honors those miners who lived or worked in Helen. Also located at the site of the memorial are interpretive signs installed in 2018 with the help of the National Coal Heritage Area Authority and the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.
Backstory and Context
The site of the memorial and interpretive signs are located at the former site of the coal company store. The company store, last operated by the Koppers Division of the Eastern Gas and Fuel Assosiates was originally constructed by the East Gulf Coal Company in 1919 was managed by George G. Burnette, a man from Kentucky, in the early 1920s. Although the store is no longer standing, it is remembered by some of the residents of Helen. John L. Lewis, former president of the Winding Gulf Restoration Organization remembers buying ice cream there as a child.
"I even remember what kind it was — one of those orange ’sicles with the cream inside,"Despite the store no longer standing, the memorial and signs help residents and visitors to remember the rich history of their town. Just as the company store was once a central location in Helen, the Miners Memorial and now the interpretive signs have become one as well. Some of the themes of the interpretive signs include, baseball, African Americans in the mines, and Helen's connection to Camp Lightfoot.