GHENT, WV (WVNS)– In 1810, West Virginia’s first commercial coal mine was established near Wheeling.

Coal mining has been the heart of West Virginia’s identity long before we gained statehood in 1863. According to Legends of America, back during the colonial era in 1742, coal was found in what is modern Boone County, back when our state was still part of Virginia. However, coal wouldn’t be exploited for years to come since wood was still popular in industry.

In 1810, Conrad Cotts opened the first commercial coal mine near Wheeling for the use of blacksmithing and domestic use. Not long after that, coal went in high demand due to the discovery of salt beds, where mines relied on coal to heat the brine in the 1820s and 1830s.

With coal being so common in the state, having deposits in all but two of the 55 counties, West Virginia developed a culture dedicated to the resource. To this day, the word coal means something to mountaineers, and we hold it near and dear to our hearts.

Though coal mining has always been a part of our identity, this industry had to begin its start at some point, and it all started in 1810.