DELBARTON – On behalf of the Southern Coal Camp Authority(SCCA), Delbarton Mayor John Preece, along with a congressman, state senator and local officials celebrated the grand opening of The Historical Delbarton Museum and Weathered Treasures Antique Store at a ribbon cutting ceremony held Friday, Oct. 16, at the former Delbarton Inn location.
Preece welcomed attendees to the event saying, “This is a really good day for us. We are celebrating some things here that are really good; the opening of an antique store called Weathered Treasures. A lot of work has gone into that and the beginning of a museum for the town of Delbarton. We will also talk a little bit about our Coal Camp Authority. We are pretty excited about coal camps and about all of it.”
Following the welcome message, Reverend Mitchell Bias was on hand to provide a prayer and blessing for the event.
Before introducing the key-note Speaker, Preece provided an overview of the SCCA. “We call it the Coal Camp Authority. It is something that has been on my heart for quite some time; having been raised in and still living in a coal camp. We all know coal camps. There are so many people throughout Southern W.Va. that know and live in the remnants of a coal camp. We thought that starting in Delbarton, it would be good to bring out that coal camp history and let people in other places know who we are, how we lived, where we came from, how we survived and ultimately; how we prospered,” Preece said.
Preece continued saying, “Not everyone had four rooms and a path but a lot of us did. I am proud of my heritage. I’m proud of where we have been and where we come from. I think every person who ever lived, worked or was born in a coal camp is proud of that coal camp heritage. I considered myself to be extremely blessed and fortunate to be in a coal camp and to be in Delbarton W.Va. I love this place and I love these people and this is what it is all about.”
During the overview, Preece discussed what he hopes is the future of SCCA. “I hope someday with our efforts and with some support, we can have a Coal Camp Trail. We have signs that we are going to put up at our coal camps and our first sign says Historic Lower William Ann Coal Camp. We want these throughout all of southern W.Va. We are starting it here in Delbarton W.Va. This is our effort.”
“Truly, it is a passion for us that are on this coal camp committee. It is something we can all take a degree of pride in and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do this,” Preece said before introducing Senator Mark Maynard from Wayne W.Va. to the event.
“My father was born in Delbarton. I love this area and I want to do all I can do for you. I think this is the Nation’s best kept secret. Please feel free to contact me. I’m there for you,” Maynard said.
Preece then introduced the key-note speaker, U.S Representative Evan Jenkins, to the event. “It gives me great pleasure to introduce our own Congressman, Evan Jenkins,” Preece said.
“Coal Camp Authority is up and running,” Jenkins said. “What a vision. The sun is shining down on Mingo County and the people of Delbarton,” Jenkins continued.
Mingo County Commissioner and Delbarton native, Diann Hannah read a letter from Senator, Joe Manchin, and recounted her own experiences growing up in a coal camp. “I am honored to read his correspondence to the people of Mingo County,” Hannah said.
She continued by sharing her experience growing up in a coal camp. “My daddy was a coal miner. We lived in a coal camp, and we were raised up with the coal company store, Island Creek Coal. You got your paycheck from Island Creek, you bought your groceries at the company store, you lived in the company house, you swam in the community swimming pool and we loved it,” Hannah said.
Hannah encouraged everyone to support the efforts being made in Delbarton saying, “We have to support this as a community to make this work.”
Following the guest speakers, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the opening of the Weathered Treasures Antique Store and Delbarton Museum. Refreshments were served following the ribbon cutting.
The Antique Store and Museum are located at the former location of the Delbarton Inn at 12 Grace St. in Delbarton W.Va.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)