Westmoreland Coal Company. Winding Gulf and Imperial Smokeless Divisions.

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In 1968 the Westmoreland Coal Company acquired the West Virginia bituminous coal properties owned by the Sprague family of Massachusetts and the Western Pocahontas Corporation, a subsidiary of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company.

Charles H. Sprague & Son was an old Boston fuel wholesale company which had developed close working relationships with several operators in the newly-developing Smokeless Coal Fields of southern West Virginia before World War I. To secure greater control over supplies, they purchased the Imperial Smokeless Coal Company in 1947 and Winding Gulf Coals, Inc., in 1955.

The Imperial Smokeless Coal Company was incorporated in West Virgingia on June 5, 1919, by Quin Martin and Walter Seal Wood. It opened its first mine at Quinwood in 1920. Martin died in 1925, and Wood sold control of the company to the Vera Pocahontas Coal Company of Welch, W. Va., in 1940. They in turn sold the company to the Sprague interests in 1947. It was reincorporated in Delaware in 1963, sold to Westmoreland in 1969 and merged into Westmoreland as a division in 1971.

Winding Gulf Coals, Inc., was incorporated in West Virginia on November 1, 1955, for the purpose of effecting a merger of the several small coal companies owned by William Purviance Tams, Jr., and George R. Collins. The Western Pocahontas Corporation received a majority interest in return for financing the merger. Winding Gulf Coals, Inc., also acquired the Gulf Mining Company from the Snyder interests in 1956 and continued to purchase additional mines until 1963. After that year the company suffered a string of large losses and began searching for a buyer. Westmoreland streamlined and upgraded the operation after its purchase in 1968. It absorbed Winding Gulf Coals, Inc., as a division on December 30, 1970.

William P. Tams, Jr., was a major independent operator in the West Virginia Smokeless Coal Fields. He prospected the area in 1905 before it had been opened by railroad, and in 1908-09 he organized the Gulf Smokeless Coal Company and founded the town of Tams. He purchased the Gulf Coal Company in 1912 and organized the Wyoming Coal Company in 1914 and the Covel Smokeless Coal Company in 1919. In 1924 he attempted to effect a merger of all the major smokeless coal operators, but the plan foundered when Isaac T. Mann withdrew the support of the giant Pocahontas Fuel Company. Tams made another effort in 1927-28, but this time the Koppers and Berwind interests were the stumbling block. Tams thereafter confined himself to his own affairs, and he remained in the town he founded even after the sale to Westmoreland.

Winding Gulf Collieries, incorporated on August 7, 1929, represented a consolidation of the many companies founded by Justus Collins (1857-1934) and later managed by his son George and his partner Lamar Epperly. It was merged into Winding Gulf Coals, Inc., on February 29, 1956.

From the description of Predecessor company records, 1908-1971. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 86119106

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Babcock Coal and Coke Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Baldwin-Felts Detectives, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Brackens Creek Coal Land Company. corporateBody
associatedWith C. H. Sprague & Son Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Clifftop Smokeless Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Collins, George R. 1890- . person
associatedWith Collins, Justus, 1857-1934. person
associatedWith Covel Smokeless Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Eastern Gas and Fuel Associates. corporateBody
associatedWith Eavenson, Howard N. 1873-1953. person
associatedWith Epperly, Lamar. person
associatedWith Gulf Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Gulf Mining Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Gulf Smokeless Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Guyan Collieries Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Imperial Smokeless Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Junior Pocahontas Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Lamar Colliery Company. corporateBody
associatedWith MacAlpin Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Mann, Isaac T. 1864-1932. person
associatedWith New River Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pocahontas Fuel Company, Incorporated. corporateBody
associatedWith Pocahontas Land Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Pocahontas Operators' Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Royalty Smokeless Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Southern Coal Producers' Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Tams, W. P. 1883-1977. person
associatedWith Western Pocahontas Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith West Gulf Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Westmoreland Coal Company. Imperial Smokeless Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Westmoreland Coal Company. Winding Gulf Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Winding Gulf Coals, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Winding Gulf Collieries. corporateBody
associatedWith Winding Gulf Land Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Wyoming Coal Company (W.Va.). corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
West Virginia
Coal mines and mining
Company towns
Consolidation and merger of corporations
Labor espionage

Corporate Body

Active 1908

Active 1971

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