menu search

25 Photos of Kentucky Coal Camps During the 1930s and 1940s

Kentucky is home to Pike County, which is the largest supplier of coal in the U.S. However, we were also home to many other coal companies all across the state. Each one had their own store, settlement and set up for miners. During the 1930s and 1940s, things were a lot different for miners then it is today. Songs were written about the hazards of mining, meanwhile, miners lived in worse conditions then many third-world countries. They often had to get credit at the company store just to feed their families, eventually owing their entire month’s pay to the store prior to receiving it.

For the most part, coal mining camps had a community pump for running water, school house, store and rudimentary housing. They lived in more shacks than homes, lacking running water and some lacking power. Miners worked hard to support their families, but often just couldn’t make ends meet. Here are 25 images from the 1930s and 1940s that provide some insight into coal work and workers during those decades.

Coal miners have led a rough life in Kentucky, and other states. They struggled to survive, and often times developed Black Lung due to coal dust. They lived in conditions that even a slum lord would frown at, and did the best they could.

If there is coal mining history in your family, you likely understand the plight of those times. If not, hopefully, this will help you see and understand another part of Kentucky’s history. Personally, I think the conditions these hard working Kentuckians had to endure are tragic. What do you think about the old coal mining camps and conditions?

Jenn Shockley
I am somewhat a cliche'. I grew up running around barefoot on a farm in Kentucky. I love writing, art, sunshine, all animals and my incredibly patient husband, who tolerates my "crazy animal lady" side.