"A Day of Appreciation" in Helen as the new Coal Miners' Memorial is dedicated.  Story

The historic mining community of
West Virginia  

Panoramic view of Helen

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For a huge version of this (300+ megs) in crisp detail tif format, click here.

History of Helen
Video and
Photo Album
Many of these pictures are taken from home movies by longtime Helen residents the Placidi family and are used by their kind permission.  Others are from the Thurman and David Miller collection. They are all copyright and may only be used for viewing and educational purposes.  Most of the video on this site is by Thurman Miller and the originals are 8mm.  However, the Placidi family, one of many Italian immigrant families to settle in the coal fields, had a 16mm camera.  You can see excerpts from this footage on Randy Hunt's website at http://www.geocities.com/wvcoalcamp/video.htmT hey captured many minutes of footage of Helen life in the 30's and 40's (in addition to their trips back to Italy and elsewhere). 
The Camp Lightfoot connection
Many of the children of miners working for Eastern Associated had the opportunity to attend Camp Thomas E. Lightfoot near Hinton at little cost.  Camp Lightfoot was intended to give poor kids a couple of weeks of healthy outdoor activity each summer, and virtually every child who attended has fond memories of the place.  Because of Eastern's wide energy holdings, miners' kids could mingle with boys and girls from Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania and even Japan.  The summer camp closed in the early 80's but Lightfoot is still used by middle and high school students, Boy Scouts, church groups, and mine training classes.  Lightfoot has a huge website dedicated to preserving its unique place in the lives of tens of thousands of young people in the four decades of its operation.  Lightfoot reunions every few years draw hundreds of visitors.
Books about Helen and the surrounding area
Longtime Helen resident Thurman Miller, a native of Otsego near Mullens has written extensively about growing up in the "hollers" and his thirty-seven years working in the coal mines.  

His books War and Work, Coal Bloom, Always Faithful, Always Free, and his latest, Earned in Blood, are available on his website.  This chapter from Coal Bloom discusses his move to Helen in 1956. (copyright David and Thurman  Miller, used by permission.  All rights reserved)
Further reading about the Helen area
Logging and timbering in the Helen area
Contacts for this website: If you have questions about this website or Helen in general, or would like to be on our mailing list for a Helen Community Reunion, please e-mail David Miller or Thurman Miller

WGRO Other attractions in Southern West Virginia / Driving Tour / The West Virginia Mine Wars / National Geographic Appalachia Site / The Tamarack  

For more about the Winding Gulf Coal fields and Helen in particular, see Chris Dellamea's Coal Camp USA sites at http://www.coalcampusa.com/sowv/gulf/gulf.htm and  http://www.coalcampusa.com/sowv/gulf/helen/helen.htm