Landgraff, West Virginia
|Landgraff, West Virginia|
|Elevation||1,568 ft (478 m)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1554907|
Landgraff (sometimes Landgraaf) is an unincorporated community in McDowell County, West Virginia. It is located along U.S. Route 52 and Elkhorn Creek approximately 6.4 miles (10.3 km) east of the county seat of Welch.
Landgraff is one of many historical coal camps in the famed Pocahontas coalfield. The town is named after Constance Landgraff Andrews, the wife of a coal company executive. The Empire Coal Company Store, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was located in Landgraff but has since burned down. The Landgraff Post Office closed in 1951, and the town lost its zip code. The population of Landgraff in the 1960s was approx. 700. The Empire Coal and Coke Company Miner's Clubhouse, built in 1922 of brick to replace a wooden structure that had burned down, is on the West Virginia "Coal Heritage Trail" (America's Byways). It was flooded in the 2001 and 2002 floods that devastated southern West Virginia, was restored in 2002, and opened as the "Elkhorn Inn and Theatre", an historic inn (named for Elkhorn Creek that runs behind the Inn) that is the state's only "Coal Heritage Trail" property offering lodging and dining. The Inn houses a small museum with mine scrip (company-printed coinage used to pay miners until the 1960s), books, documents, coal core samples, photos, artwork, and other memorabilia on the area's history of railroading and coal mining. The famed "Pocahontas" line of the Norfolk Southern Railroad (formerly Norfolk Western) runs along Route 52 past the Inn. The Landgraff Mine coal tipple was located a short distance from the Inn.
In 2001 and 2002, a pair of devastating floods along Elkhorn Creek destroyed much of the town. Today, the only surviving historic building in Landgraff is the former Empire Coal & Coke Company "Miner's Clubhouse", which now serves as an historic inn bed-and-breakfast, the Elkhorn Inn and Theatre, which has a small "Museum Room" devoted to the area's history of coal mining and railroading. Coal trains continue to rumble through the heart of the area on Norfolk Southern Railway's (former Norfolk and Western Railway) Pocahontas Division. Area attractions which draw tourists from across the USA and overseas include "railfanning" (train photography), fly-fishing for 24"-32" record-breaking trout on Elkhorn Creek, ATVing, golf, hiking, and historic sites connected to the Mine Wars, books such as Homer Hickam's "Rocket Boys" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer_Hickam, and movies, including "October Sky" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Sky.
Famous people born in Landgraff include WV Senator Robert C. Byrd http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bryd: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ellison. Landgraff was the boyhood home of John Ellison, singer, musician and composer, most famous for composing and first performing the song "Some Kind of Wonderful". In July 2013 a lamp house once used by Empire Coal and Coke Co. and the land around it were cleared as part of a 2013 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree service project. John Ellison and others plan to build a replica of his boyhood home at the site and utilize it and the existing lamp house as a museum facility to preserve the history of coal camp life in southern West Virginia and John Ellison's musical career.
A recent guest to the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, built in 1922 as the Empire Coal & Coke Company "Miner's Clubhouse", who lived in the building in 1956-1957, confirmed that in 1956-1957 it belonged to Pocahontas Coal Company; photos from 1956-1957 are now posted on the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre's Facebook page www.facebook.com/elkhorninnandTheatre Other guests who lived in the building during WWII stated that at that point it was a "rooming house for miner's families"; they lived in the building as teens when their father was a coal miner and their mother worked in the kitchen. In the 1970s the building belonged to Hawley Coal, and was later a State Police office and a document storage company, before being flooded in 2001 and 2002, and then being restored by Daniel and Elisse Clark in 2002 and opened as an historic inn. The Clarks are actively seeking information on the history of Landgraff, and can be reached though the inn's website or Facebook page.
- "Landgraff". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. 1980-06-27. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
- Elkhorn Inn and Theatre - surviving structure in town