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Welch History Notable: 62 years ago today, May 9th, 1959, JFK was in Welch on the campaign trail. He visited Welch several times that year (April 26 and May 3) and he visited Gary, WV mining facilities along the way.

Why is Welch, WV Called CoalTown, USA?

Nestled in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains, Welch is the county seat of McDowell County, WV. Also known as CoalTown, USA, our city remembers our coal mining heritage and honors that many of our citizens, currently carry on this tradition and proudly call themselves WV Coal Miners.

We invite you to come and visit our town, learn our history, enjoy our special events, and embrace this
unique place in the heart of Coal Country.

Welch, West Virginia is known is a city built on coal. However, it is a historic community in the heart of the mountains, where outdoor recreation, like ATV riding and hiking, are as abundant as the peace and quiet found on our safe streets. 


Since the establishment of McDowell County in 1858, the main source of income for its residents has been derived from the coal mining industry. The population boomed during the 1950s and 1960s and reached more than 100,000 residents in the area.


Despite its smaller footprint today, coal mining continues to drive industry and commerce in Welch and the establishment of CoalTown, USA celebrates the future, while also remembering the heritage that made The City of Welch strong. 


Visitors will also enjoy learning about our diverse and storied history, which showcases the Appalachian perseverance that helped build America and how Welch, WV continues trail blazing ahead into the future...

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CoalTown, USA

The City of Welch, West Virginia 

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National Coal Miners' Day Commemorated in Welch, WV Welch, WV Coal Miners' Day Proclamation

Whereas, Coal Mining is an important part of our economics, history, and culture in McDowell County, we recognize National Coal Miners Day in The City Welch to honor our Coal Miners on this most special day, and;


Whereas, West Virginia Coal Miners are a vital part of our community and our local families rely on their dedication and hard work in helping provide many of the products essential to America’s most vital needs, and;


Whereas, this notable honor is for each coal miner who demonstrates an extraordinary responsibility by working in this mines; while also serving as community leaders, parents, and role models in the City of Welch and the surrounding area.


Therefore, each of our Coal Miners shall be commended today and everyday hereafter, as we extended our heartfelt appreciation and respect for their efforts in this essential career field.


As the Mayor of Welch, WV, I proclaim that we acknowledge each and every coal miner in Welch, WV, and the surrounding area, on this important occasion, National Coal Miners Day.


The City of Welch extends to our sincere appreciation and prayer for their continued safety and success by official proclamation on this day, December 6, 2022.


Harold McBride, Sr., Mayor, City of Welch, WV



Meet The African-American Miners of McDowell County

Starting in 1870, thousands of African Americans and European Immigrants came to West Virginia to become coal miners. African Americans workers were drawn to West Virginia to escape the economic challenges and oppressive living conditions of the south after the Civil War. Many European Immigrants came to the area to pursue the American Dream and established ethic communities in Coal Camps in McDowell County, WV. They found commonalities in being near their fellow Italians, Hungarians, Poles, Austrians, and Russians since many didn’t speak English when they arrived. This collaborative group of men with lots of optimism and determination rose to the challenge of Appalachian mountain life and became Coal Miners. The worked in the coal mines with an optimistic hope of building a better life for their families. By 1909, African Americans and European Immigrants made up over 60 percent of West Virginia mine workers. These miners exerted a powerful influence upon the culture in the Coalfields that we still experience today in the region in our foods and traditions. These workers were also instrumental in creating early organized labor movements that led to mining regulations and safety standards we see today in the industry. Mining was considered one of the nation’s most hazardous occupations and when miners died, which was common, their bereaved families were evicted from company-owned houses immediately and left to fend for themselves. Today, while still dangerous, coal mining has strict safety standards in place and workers are prepared with training and equipment. We honor all Coal Miners and their families in Coaltown, USA. We’ve created the CoalTown Miner’s Gallery of Honor to recognize miners who built the community we love in Coaltown, USA! If you have Coal Miner that you’d like to honor, please email us a photo, name, and years they worked in the mine and where and we will add them to the Miner’s Gallery of Honor.

Photo (left) Michael Edwards Jr. EDM #1

2011 to present,  Shuttle Car Operator Mine Rescue Team
Click on the scrolling gallery below to meet more McDowell County Miners.

(Click on any photo to learn more about the individual miner.)