Coal Country Tours
Exploring the history and culture of Central Appalachia
Hatfields & McCoys and the West Virginia Mine War Tours
Heritage Adventures
Adventures from the mid-Atlantic to the Canadian Maritimes 
The Chesapeake Bay, Washington DC, Old Quebec

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Coal Country Tours offers custom and pre-planned tours for you and your family, group, or organization. We can accomodate any size group but we prefer to start with at least seven increasing to fifty or more. We also offer step-on guide service. Contact us today with your ideas, budget, and schedule and let us know what we can do for you.  



Do you live in KY, TN, VA, OH, NC or any other state not on the tour route?  Meet us at the Tamarack Cultural Center in Beckley, WV.  It is the first and last destination for all of our WV Mine War Tours. Leave your car and we will drop you off at the end of the tour. Simple!

West Virginia Mine War Tour, June 7-9, 2014

Departing Pittsburgh, & Morgantown, WV

Sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WVU 


West Virginia Mine War Tour, May 16-18, 2014

Departing Shepherdston & Charles Town, WV

Sponsored by the Shepherd University Lifelong Learning Prog.

Tamarack Cultural Center
Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine
Whipple Company Store
Twin Falls State Park Lodge

Tour of Matewan, WV
Re-enactment of the "Matewan  Massacre"
Dinner with active and retired    coal miners UMW Local 1440
Tour of Blair Mtn. Battlefield

McDowell County Courthouse,      site of Sid Hatfield's                assassination
WWI Black Soldiers Memorial Tour of the mansions and town  of Bramwell, WV "the home of  millionaires."
New River Gorge Bridge  Overlook

$395 per person
double occupancy ($445 for single) includes transportation, lodging, all admissions, and lunch at Tamarack, Matewan, and Bramwell, call 540-233-0543

The West Virginia Mine Wars 

From around 1900 through 1922 a series of lockouts, strikes, clashes, gunfights, battles, assassinations, and all out warfare raged through the southern coal fields of West Virginia.


The Hatfield and McCoy Feud

One of the most enduring and recognizable events in Appalachian history is the Hatfield & McCoy feud that raged along the West Virginia and Kentucky border for a decade from about 1880 until 1890. 


Cass Scenic Railroad

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park located in Pocahontas County, WV offers visitors a chance to learn about life in an early 20th Century lumber town, to ride trains pulled by authentic Shay steam locomotives, and to access the beauty of West Virginia's high mountains.
Cass Scenic Railroad Tour

New River White Water Rafting

There is no better white water rafting to be found in the eastern United States than on the lower New River in West Virginia where there are 25 rapids ranging from Class II to Class VI.
New River White Water Rafting Tour

Bramwell, West Virginia

Bramwell, West Virginia, once home to coal barons, industrialists, and financiers was known as "the town of millionaires." Today it is known for its dozens of restored mansions and quaint downtown.
The Bramwell Tour

Haunted West Virginia

West Virginia's geography and history are both naturally suited to tales of ghosts and the haunted. From its dark and remote hollows to its bloody history of mine disasters and feuds, who knows what spirits linger?
Haunted West Virginia Tour

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Check out coverage on Coal Country Tours by USA Today Travel, the National Trust, National Public Radio, the Baltimore Sun, CNN, the Associated Press, and others here.

Announcing six-week courses on the West Virginia Mine Wars 1900-1922, conducted by Doug Estepp of Coal Country Tours.

Shepherd University Lifelong Learning Program at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown WV. March 10 through April 14, Monday evenings from 6:00 to 7:30.  
For information go to or call Karen Rice at 304-876-5135.  
The Shepherd Lifelong Learning Program will also co-sponsor a three-day West Virginia Mine War Tour May 16-18 departing Shepherdstown.  Click on the tour in the column to the left for details.

West Virginia University Lifelong Learning Program in Morgantown, WV.
April 9 through May 21, Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00.
For information go to or call 304-293-1793.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Program at WVU will also co-sponsor a three-day West Virginia Mine War Tour June 6-8 departing Morgantown.  Click on the tour in the column to the left for details.

Don't miss your chance to learn more about the fascinating history of the West Virginia Mine Wars and to join us on these tours.  Sign up today!  Call Doug at 540-233-0543

Subjects covered include the early operators, the 1902 New River strike, work and camp life of pick miners, Mother Jones, the UMWA, the 1912-13 Paint Creek & Cabin Creek strike, the Baldwin Felts Detective Agency, the aborted 1919 march, the "Matewan Massacre," the assassination of Sid Hatfield & Ed Chambers, the 1920-22 Mingo County strike, the march and Battle of Blair Mountain, and the 1922 Charles Town treason trials. Also, please check out our WV Mine War Tour (three-day, coach tour) scheduled for September 13-15.  Co-sponsored by the WVU Osher Institute this tour departs from Cleveland, OH picking up in Pittsburgh and Morgantown. We also are offering a three day WV Mine War Tour October 4-6 sponsored by Shepherd University departing from will be from Shepherdstown and Charles Town, WV.

06/20/13    WV Public Radio Sesquicentennial documentary - "West Virginia 150, Commemorating Statehood," with commentary by Doug Estepp of Coal Country Tours.

read more

Join Coal Country Tours, the Shepherd University Common Reading Program, and the Shepherdstown Film Society at 7:00 PM, Friday April 11 as we welcome producer/director Elaine McMillion in screening her interactive documentary "Hollow" at Reynolds Hall at Shepherd University.  "Hollow" explores McDowell County, WV through the eyes and voices of its residents and has been named a finalist for the Interactive and People's Choice Awards at this year's South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.  Don't miss it!

We all owe a debt to Kenny King of Ethyl, WV who began the fight to save Blair Mountain over a decade ago.  Kenny has now come up with some incredible film clips of the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Blair Mountain.  This footage has likely not been seen in decades but Kenny has posted it on You Tube for all to see.  Many thanks Kenny.

view footage here

View footage of General Billy Mitchell and the First Provisional Air Brigade as they sink battleships off the Virginia coast days before being deployed to West Virginia during the Battle of Blair Mountain


Now on You Tube, "The Last Mountain.

View here.





More than three decades before the American Revolution, Colonial explorers had already discovered coal in the southern Appalachian Mountains. While scouting tributaries of the Kanawha River in 1742, a man named Peter Salley christened one of these streams Coal River after finding outcroppings in the hills above. Little did he know that dozens of seams covering hundreds of square miles lay all around containing billions of tons of the combustible fuel. It mattered little, however, as the territory was a vast rugged wilderness of steep mountains and deep narrow valleys remote from civilization where coal might be of use. 

     As settlers moved west they largely bypassed the southern mountains in search of more hospitable land. It was not until 1873 when the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad reached Huntington by way of the New and Kanawha Rivers that the vast reserves of coal became accessible. The coal industry in West Virginia was born and when the Norfolk & Western Railroad reached the Ohio River in 1895, it exploded transforming the sparsely settled hills into a great industrial zone. Coal was America’s power source and like oil today, the country had an insatiable appetite for it. 
     The combination of rapid change and the opportunity to make incredible fortunes combined to create tension and conflict which led to violence and eventually open warfare between exploited miners and their capitalist bosses. A series of strikes, gunfights, and assassinations followed culminating in the Battle of Blair Mountain which took place in Logan County in 1921. There, more than ten thousand armed coal miners fought thousands of mine guards, deputies, state police, and company employees armed with modern military machine guns, light artillery, and airplanes that dropped bombs on the miners. 
    This history, now commonly known as the West Virginia Mine Wars has long been ignored by mainstream historians and as incredible and important as it is, it has faded into the shadows of time. And there it has remained largely unknown even to the generations of West Virginians whose forbearers fought those battles. The struggle continues to this day but in order to understand the continuing conflict one must first know this history. 
    Coal Country Tours LLC is pleased to offer to those who wish to learn more, to the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of coal miners everywhere, and to those who seek a better understanding of our past and present, the opportunity to tour the southern West Virginia coalfields and to visit the sites and learn the history of the West Virginia Mine Wars. 
      We invite you to join us as we learn about the railroads that opened the territory and as we travel deep into an early 20th century coal mine to learn about the work and lives of the early miners. Come with us as we visit an authentic 1890 coal company store and learn the disturbing secrets of its operations. Travel with us to Holly Grove where striking miners and their families were machine-gunned in their tents and visit the unmarked graveyard where those killed in the fighting repose. Walk the ridge of Blair Mountain where the largest armed insurrection in US history excluding the Civil War took place. 
     See the streets of Matewan where ten men died in a running gun battle in 1920 when Police Chief Sid Hatfield and striking miners fought the notorious Baldwin Felts Detectives. Stand on the steps of the McDowell County Courthouse where the Baldwin Felts men exacted their revenge when they assassinated Hatfield and his boyhood friend Ed Chambers a year later. Experience the wealth and privilege of the coal Barons in the town of Bramwell. And finally, tour the jail where union leader Bill Blizzard and other miners were incarcerated and the same, adjacent courthouse where he and fellow coal miner Walter Allen were tried for treason as was the famous abolitionist John Brown half a century before.  
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