Once home to the Moneton people, Beckley was founded in 1838 and is named in honour of the first Librarian of Congress, John James Beckley. It has been nicknamed the "Smokeless Coal Capital” due to its coal mining history, with the city’s industrial past celebrated at a fascinating open-air museum.
Things to do in Beckley
Don’t miss a visit to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, which occupies the site of a drift mine dating back to 1889. It encompasses 450 metres of underground passageways and just under a kilometre of historic track that can be explored on guided tours led by veteran miners. Learn about mining in Appalachia as you wander between the period camp buildings that include the Superintendent’s Home, the Pemberton Coal Camp Church and the Helen Coal Camp School.
Travelling with kids? Visit the adjacent Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia, where you’ll find interactive exhibits dedicated to the worlds of art, history, science and nature. Designed within four railroad boxcars, its changing displays explore everything from dinosaurs to award-winning authors. The Youth Museum is also home to one of the smallest planetariums in the United States.
A short drive north-west of Beckley is the Tamarack Marketplace, which showcases locally crafted goods and specialty food items. See what’s happening in the resident artisan studios or attend one of the hands-on craft demonstrations before feasting on Appalachian cuisine in the on-site restaurant. Live music and cultural events also regularly take place at the Tamarack Marketplace.
Getting around Beckley
Raleigh County Memorial Airport is a 10-minute drive from Beckley and has regular flights to Charlotte and Parkersburg. Amtrak trains from New York and Chicago stop at Prince railway station, which is a 20-minute drive from Beckley. Local buses travel throughout the city.