For the past 5 or 6 years I have wanted to get in this building so bad I couldnt stand it. The situation never presented itself to me where I thought I could safely and quickly without notice get in, get out and get some quality shots. That is until today. This morning I was out driving around, just wanting to enjoy the blue skies and semi-warm-ish weather. Some how I ended up in Lynch and in the old Elementary School. I hope you enjoy these photos and I hope my facts are correct that I present with them.
First, let me give you a bit of background information on Lynch, Kentucky. In 1917 the U.S. Coal & Coke Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, built the community of Lynch, Kentucky, then the world’s largest coal camp. The coal camp was built on part of the 19,000 acres the company had purchased in the southeastern tip of Harlan County, near the Virginia border. The camp’s population peaked at over 10,000 people. One thousand company owned structures provided housing for people of 38 nationalities, the most prominent of which were Italian, Spanish, Czech, Polish, English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish. By the 1940s this mining complex employed more than 4000 persons above and below ground.
The public buildings were constructed of cut sandstone, and included a company store, theaters, churches, a hospital and schools. Many company buildings were built of stone as well, such as the offices, bath house, power plant and lamphouse. In the 1920s U.S. Coal & Coke owned the world’s largest coal tipple with a capacity of 15,000 tons. On February 12, 1923 the world’s record for coal production in a single 9 hour shift was achieved when miners operating 40 shortwall cutting machines produced 12,820 tons of coal, filling 256 railcars.
The public schools pictured in these photos were first part of the The Lynch Mines School System. Apparently, since the company owned the town, the company also ran the schools at this time. This was disolved sometime around the 1960s and schools were integrated into the Harlan County Schools. At this time in history, schools were segregated. Another school located on the west end of town still stands as well, and right on the building it says “Lynch Colored Public School” When the schools were integrated in the 1960s the school was renamed Lynch West Main High School. I will have more on the high schools in a later post, back to the Elementary School, and on to the real good stuff. The pictures!