The Story Behind This Haunted Company Store In West Virginia Is Heartbreakingly Tragic
The company store was an institution in coal mining towns. The same coal company that employed the workers also owned the store, which was usually the only place in town that people could shop. Sometimes miners were paid in “scrip,” which was only redeemable at the company store. As a result, the miners could become completely dependent on the coal companies. These types of control ultimately led to the
Mine Wars and union organizing for better conditions.
Editor’s Note: This building was sold to a private owner in 2018 and is not open to the public. Nonetheless, it has a great history and is worth learning about! For a haunting destination you can visit, swing by the local paranormal museum.
The Whipple Company Store served the town surrounding the the New River Company Whipple mine from 1890 to 1954.
The store did more than just supply essential items for families. It also served as a meeting place for town events.
The 18,000 square foot building had a ballroom for dances, and sold everything from candy to caskets.
It even served as the town morgue.
The dead were embalmed in the basement, and bodies were stored there until their funerals.
The store's unique design, an octagon on top of a hexagon, is the only one of its type in the world.
The design was more than just decorative. A store employee could stand in the center and hear and see everything that happened in the building. Even a whisper could be heard from the center, and officials listened for talk of unions.
The architecture wasn't the only way the store kept control of miners.
Miners were often paid in "scrip" rather than cash. Scrip was only redeemable at the company store. With no options for competition, the miners were forced to pay the prices that the store set, and were easily kept in poverty.
Women may have been issued scrip, as well.
There are stories of women being given a
special type of scrip
, which became known as "Esau Scrip," when their husbands were out of work from injury of illness. If the husband went back to work quickly, he could repay the loan, but if he didn't, the women were expected to do any favors that the coal officials demanded, as payment.
In a building that's had so many brushes with death and corruption, it's not surprising that there are some ghost stories.
Many people have experienced the smell of coal dust or heard strange voices in the store. There have been a few full apparitions of miners.
You can take either historical tours or ghost tours here.
Historical tours happen every day but Tuesday through the month of October. Haunted tours happen every Friday and Saturday in October. Call
304 465-0331 for more information about the haunted tours.
Whipple Company Store is located at 7485 Okey L Patteson Rd, Scarbro, WV.
For another tour that gives a peek into the life of miners, you can take this
underground ride into an old coal mine.
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