The dramatic increase in coal mining activity at Scott’s Run attracted workers from across West Virginia, the United States, and Europe. Sixty percent of the population that settled around the mines in the area were foreign-born hailing primarily from Eastern and Southern Europe. Another twenty percent were African American, making Scott’s Run a uniquely diverse community in the Appalachian region. Although the community’s residents brought a wide array of outside cultures to West Virginia in the early twentieth century, however, historians have characterized their communities as “stranded” by the lack of alternative employment opportunities, language barriers, and racism. As a result workers at the Scott’s Run mines were hit particularly hard by the Great Depression, becoming a symbol for the plight of American coal miners during the period after First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the area in 1933. Photographers and journalists documented living conditions in the Scott’s Run settlements extensively during this period prompting considerable outrage nationwide, with one writer for the Atlantic Monthly describing the area as the “damndest cesspool of human misery I have ever seen in America.” This upswell of opinion translated into increased support for local charity efforts and the First Lady’s establishment of Arthurdale in nearby Preston County, a development intended to provide more adequate housing and community facilities for the workers of Scott’s Run and other area mines.
Life for Scott’s Run’s workers was complicated further by the outbreak of World War II, a period that saw a considerable uptick in demand for coal in response to increased military activities and the mechanization of mining operations. Although mechanization offered safer working conditions for miners in some respects as machines took over some of the more hazardous aspects of coal extraction, it also produced a myriad of new dangers from the increase in coal dust and flammable gas. New coal mining machinery produced clouds of dust that were largely absent in the era of coal mining, dust that filled miners’ lungs and obscured their vision. Noise from the machinery also prevented miners from hearing the telltale sounds of oncoming shaft collapses, further increasing the danger. Perhaps most hazardous of all, however, was the methane gas the new machines produced, which when trapped or combined with coal dust could result in powerful and fatal explosions. Whereas before mechanization the Scott’s Run mines had not experienced a level of fatalities that could qualify as a disaster (over five casualties), afterwards it experienced three in the span of nine months. The first, at the Osage mine on May 12, 1942, resulted in 56 deaths. The second, at Pursglove on July 9 of the same year, killed twenty men. The last, again at Pursglove on January 8, 1943, added another eleven workers to the total. These disasters prompted formal investigations but little else, nothing being done to improve safety conditions in the mines or regulate the industry. The Scott’s Run mines continued with business as usual until further mechanization, the shift to diesel in many industries that once relied on coal for fuel, and the arrival of I-79 to the Scott’s Run area prompted their closure in the second half of the twentieth century.
Since then, area residents have worked strenuously to preserve the history of the mines and the communities of miners that they produced. The Scott’s Run Museum is in part a result of those efforts as is the Scott’s Run Trail, a heritage tour of the area that leads visitors to geocached sites related to the history of the mines and their workers. Combined, the Museum and Trail offer a unique window into Scott’s Run’s past and the larger story of West Virginia’s miners and their experiences over the course of the twentieth century. Anyone interested in that history may visit the trail at any time and the museum during its operating hours on Saturdays.
 Lewis, “Introduction,” 2.
 Lewis, “Introduction,” 2.