Links to Mining Museums and Miners' Memorials for Kentucky
While visiting the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum, you can see the floor plan of atypical underground coal mine. The display shows all aspects of a coal mine including the tipple and other mining activities.
In addition to the many displays inside the building, visitors can have there picture made outside the building next to the two-ton block of coal that was specially cut for the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum. Kids will also enjoy climbing on the 1940's model electric locomotive that was used to haul miners inside the mine and see the other heavy machinery used in mining the "black diamond."
The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is located in the former coal camp town of Benham in the eastern Kentucky county of Harlan. Benham was originally occupied by farming families. International Harvester purchased the area in the early 1900's for its rich coal seams; then mining began. In 1911, L&N built a spur line and Benham became a productive coal mining town.
The City of Benham was incorporated in 1960 after International Harvester sold several buildings and lots to the town council.
The museum building is the second building built by the company to house a company commissary. The first one, built on the same site, was a wooden structure which was destroyed by fire in the mid-teens. The concrete and masonry structure that now stands replaced the burned building in 1923. The building was purchased in June 1990 by the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce for the future site of the museum. It underwent extensive renovations with funds provided from the state of Kentucky and opened its doors for the first time in May 1994. Museum visitors always have an enjoyable time when they visit the museum and recount the past coal mining history.
The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum offers a complete picture of the lives that revolve around a coal industry. Visitors to the museum can view the process detailing the formation of coal by looking at several visuals and fossil displays. Next a narrated video describes the early coal mining days in Benham and Lynch. Other displays include items from the company hospital, early mining tools, items from the commissary and the miner's home, and a working scale model of a coal tipple. A photography collection documenting the past history of Benham - mining accidents, new buildings, people, etc. - can also be seen. Thousands of items have been collected detailing every segment of coal mining history. After a short trip to Portal 31 in nearby Lynch (2 miles), you can enjoy a walking tour, with sign boards, of one of the largest coal loading facilities in the world.
Just opening in May, 1994, the Kentucky Coal Mine Museum has enjoyed a successful first year. While not complete, plans in the very near future are to complete renovation of the building and accompanying underground mine tour which will be located at nearby Portal 31 in Lynch. A walking tour of the grounds outside the portal is already developed. Country music legend Loretta Lynn, "The Coal Miner's Daughter," has agreed to house a collection on the third floor of the museum. That portion of the museum is expected to open in early 1997. We welcome you to come visit the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum and encourage, a call ahead for large groups or tours.
The museum has a web site. The address for the site is http://www.kingdomcome.org/museum/.