New! Photos and Videos of Helen
(click for larger versions)
We hope you enjoy these pictures and videos!  We're trying to raise money to restore old film footage of Helen! If you would be interested in pre-ordering a DVD of Helen footage, containing over an hour of footage from the 1930's through the 1960, please let us know. Approximate cost is $20 postpaid.
New video!
The below are taken from home movies by longtime Helen resident Thurman Miller All films are silent and will play in the free Windows Media Player.
Copyright 2007.  All rights reserved!

This is what Helen looked like in about 1965 as Thurman Miller drove north on Route 16, past Tams.

The Helen Community Church has been a central part of Helen life since it was built ninety years ago. This footage is from the mid-1960's.

Life was simpler in 1960's Helen. Here's a costume party featuring some of the kids.

The Scouts had a log cabin on the hill near the superintendent's house. This is how Helen looked from there in the mid-1960's. Sadly,  the cabin was destroyed by arson in the 1970's.

 


Helen had a very active Boy Scout and Cub Scout troop. Here the scouts present a church program.

 

You can see more Helen video from the Placidi family's home movies on Randy Hunt's website 
Photos
John Lewis unveils the new memorial to Helen's miners.  See story
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New pics!  Do you have old photos we could use?  Let us know!   Here are several submitted by Marie Lester
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The town The people Coal was king
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Helen was built in the late nineteen-teens
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Houses in what is now "Foremen's Bottom," where the bosses lived.  This house, beside the company store, was reserved for the company doctor.  Photo courtesy Mary Legg Stephenson.
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Coal was king in Helen.
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A work crew
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Typical miner's house
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Loading coal by hand, probably 1930's.
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Locomotive typical of the 1930's
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"The Grill," as it was universally known, was a favorite gathering spot for several generations of Helen residents. 
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Near one of the two Helen tipples. 
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Looking north along Route 16, probably taken from the steps of the Helen School.
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The Grill.
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Taking a break.
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Also 1947.  Beckley is 16 miles to the north, to the left in the picture.
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Helen residents, 1940's.
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The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O), Virginian, Norfolk Southern, and Chessie system railroads operated in Helen. 
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Wide-angle shot looking down from near the Superintendent's house, 1947.  The road, State Route 16,  runs to the right toward Mullens, 11 miles to the south. 
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Helen residents.
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This log cabin was used as a Boy Scout meeting house until destroyed by arson in the 1970's.
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View from the Helen School, 1960's
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A young sportsman.  The Grill and boarding house are in the background. 
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Dewey Marshall of Helen, just to the left behind the flower arrangement, at the 1952 UMWA Convention in Cincinnati
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The Helen Company Store, probably in the 1920's.  The store closed soon after the Helen mines did, in the mid-60's.  Most of the store was demolished in the early 1980's except for the concrete block walk-in safe, which was finally destroyed by the current landowners, Western Pocahontas Land Co., in late 2005.  Photo courtesy Mary Legg Stephenson.
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Miners were paid in "scrip" or private money, redeemable only at the company store.
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Retired miner Thurman Miller of Helen demonstrates miners' gear
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Another view of the company store
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Every coal town had its own baseball team, and many were very good.  This Helen player didn't beat the throw to first. 
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Looking north along Route 16.  Bus service took passengers to Mullens, Beckley, and other nearby towns.
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Looking south on Route 16.  Helen School is at the top of the picture. 
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The uniforms were emblazoned Helen on the front, UMWA on the back.
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Bound for Beckley.
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Looking east into the #2 mine holler.  The miners' bathhouse is in the lower left foreground.  Photo courtesy Mary Legg Stephenson.
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Against arch-rival Sophia. 
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Heading south toward Mullens.  
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Boarding house for single miners.  Photo courtesy Mary Legg Stephenson.
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Longtime Helen resident Enoch Greer 
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The Lower Bottom.
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The gas station where a teenaged Robert Byrd worked. 
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Grethel Lester of Helen, with the school in the background

Helen Sunday School
Helen schools Mark Twain High/Junior High Helen church
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One of the Helen schools, shown in the 1940's.  It was closed in the mid-1960's and Helen students were bussed to Mark Twain, in Stotesbury.
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A car jockey shows his school spirit.  

The church at Helen has been in continuous since its construction in the 1920's. 

This Helen school was attended by its African American children prior to integration.  It has been carefully restored and can now be seen at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.   The Exhibition Coal Mine has also restored a typical miner's home, an early miner's shanty, and a coal camp church.     
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Mark Twain band on the steps of the Helen church
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A wedding at the Helen church, probably 1940's.  The church was used by Protestant and Catholic families alike and was the community center for celebrations, baby showers, etc.

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Two more views of Helen Elementary

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Mark Twain High School marching band (the Authors), probably 1940's.  
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Dewey Wilson, second from left, was pastor at Helen for many years.  Probably with some fellow ministers
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Helen Grade School, 1968
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Mark Twain Junior High, 1968
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Visitors to the Beckley area can get a good idea of the miner's life by visiting the Exhibition Coal Mine

All photos and videos on this website are copyright 2007 David T. Miller or others as indicated, and all rights to them are reserved.  You may not use these material without our permission.