Lynch, Kentucky- Largest Coal Camp in the World
Lynch, Kentucky was built in 1917 by U.S. Coal & Coke, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. Spurred largely by the need for metallurgical coal to support the Allied war effort in World War I, U.S. Steel built a large coal camp just east of International Harvester's coal camp in Benham. Like Benham, Lynch was a prosperous town with very little similarity to the impoverished coal camps in the surrounding region. White and black schools were staffed by highly trained teachers and principals. Likewise, the hospital was staffed by the best doctors and nurses. Epidemics in Lynch were dealt with swiftly and, in many cases, the casualties of these epidemics were much lower than the surrounding area. The company encouraged large holiday celebrations that often included parades and professional entertainers. These celebrations were documented by company photographers. These photographers also captured mining operations, construction of public buildings, camp house types, and other events. Many of these photographs were then sent to the main office in Pittsburgh to highlight the progress of the town.
The coal industry began to decline in the latter half of the 20th century. In 1984 the mines in Lynch were sold to Arch Mineral. Arch Mineral donated the negatives and photographs of the town's history to Southeast Community College in Cumberland, Kentucky. The images in this virtual exhibit represent a selection of the U.S. Coal & Coke and International Harvester Image Collection. If you would like more information about the collection, please contact the cataloger at the address below.