Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Owe My Soul To the Company Store

Trammel, Virginia, was a coal mining town that was built by the Virginia Banner Coal Corporation in 1917. The last spike of the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railway, which was completed in 1915, had been driven near here.

In the 1970s, coal resources started drying up and coal companies began laying off employees. The economic conditions hit coal mining towns hard. The company that owned Trammel eventually went out of business and became an estate. In 1985, the estate decided to sell the town, including 50 homes, the company store, post office, and water and cable systems. All were put on the auction block. Local residents, most of whom were unemployed and disabled, banded together with the help of churches and foundations to raise money and form a homeowners association. They purchased the auctioned homes and saved their town.

While their efforts gave them possession of their homes, conditions have not improved in Trammel. There are no businesses or industries and therefore no jobs. Unemployment is extremely high. Many of the residents are elderly and depend on black lung compensation or social security. The economic outlook for the residents of Trammel is grim.

Information from In Motion Magazine and Dickenson County by Victoria L. Osborne & Dr. Ralph Stanley.