History Of Pocahontas
Any history of Pocahontas, Virginia must necessarily be a history of the Pocahontas Coal Field. As early as 1860, coal was used in a blacksmith shop. The seam used was 13 feet thick.
The Southwest Improvement Company opened the first mine in Pocahontas in 1882. The name Pocahontas was chosen in honor of the Indian princess who had saved the life of Captain John Smith. The first company store was built in 1883 by the coal company (presently the Foodline). Company houses and boarding houses were also constructed for the miners and their families. Many immigrants of Hungarian, Welsh, Russian, Polish, Italian, German, and Irish descent, along with people of many other countries, came to work in the coal fields.
The town also boasts of an opera house built in 1895, and which featured many first-run Broadway shows.
Just outside of town, the Pocahontas Operators Association reserved 875 feet of the original coal seam as an exhibit so that people could see the old methods of coal mining by hand loading. The Exhibition Mine is open from April through October 31st. Even though the population has decreased to less than 500, the history stored in and around Pocahontas still draws visitors to our area. The people who live here today are more than willing to regale visitors with anecdotes of family and town history. Their friendliness and hospitality are living testimony to the legacy of graciousness passed on to them by the generations of people who have gone before them.