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Jackson County man writes book about coal town

Todd Hanson recently published “Plymouth — The Putnam County Connection” about the community’s coal and river history and heritage from around 1887 to 1943. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — A local writer has explored the coal mining history of a Putnam County community in his latest book.

Todd A. Hanson’s “Plymouth — The Putnam County Connection” is a pictorial look into the community’s coal and river history and heritage from 1887 to 1943 and its connection to Campbell’s Creek in Kanawha County.

The coal industry once thrived between the two counties and the two mining areas that were 25 miles apart. They became intertwined by the industry, ownership and the Kanawha River, Hanson said.

“The story of Campbell’s Creek would not be complete without exploring its Putnam County connection,” Hanson said. “It is a portion of our history that has nearly escaped into time,” since mining ceased there over 75 years ago.

“It’s amazing how this long-forgotten coal mining district continues to enrich the region in the form of Amherst/Plymouth Wildlife Management and the legacy of the Hometown Park,” Hanson said.

Hanson is a six generation native of Campbell’s Creek.

He has lived in Jackson County for 30 years and is with Stepp and Sons garage doors. Writing is a hobby.

“Plymouth — The Putnam County Connection” is Hanson’s third book. He became involved in writing and history after “Kanawha County Images: A Bicentennial History” was published.

One of the reasons for his interest and his writing of the book is so many years have passed since the end of the coal era that a couple generations are unaware of the industry’s importance, he said. If youth knew of the heritage and the history, “they would be proud of from where they came,” Hanson said.

“Campbell’s Creek — A Portrait of a Coal Mining Community,” Hanson’s first book, was published in 1989 by Pictorial Histories Publishing Co. of Charleston. The 25th anniversary edition of the Campbell’s Creek book was published in 2015 by Quarrier Press of Charleston.

Hanson’s photographs and articles have appeared in newspapers, in “Wonderful West Virginia,” “Goldenseal,” “Blue Ridge Country,” “Country” and “Country Extra” magazines. He has contributed to numerous books including “King Coal — A Pictorial Heritage of West Virginia Coal Mining,” “Kanawha County Images,” “The Kanawha and Michigan Railroad,” the Coal Camp Kids series, “West Virginia Mountain Majesty” and the West Virginia Encyclopedia project.

Through brief biographical sketches, historical notes, tidbits and photographs in “Plymouth — The Putnam County Connection,” the Plymouth miners, riverboat workers and their families are recognized for their celebrated contributions to the industrial and economic development of the Kanawha Valley.

“Plymouth — The Putnam County Connection” is 8.5-by-11, 86 pages, full-color cover, softbound and with more than 150 photographs, maps, charts and illustrations.

It is distributed by the West Virginia Book Co. and is available at Tamarack, Taylor Books and at campbellscreekhistory.com. It retails for $19.95.

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