When gold was struck in California in the late 1840’s, a man from western Virginia took off hoping to get rich. But it wasn’t gold that would make Isaiah A. Welch a rich man. It was coal.

Welch, a Confederate Army veteran, helped promote coal seams in Southern West Virginia during the Industrial Revolution.

Born in Doddridge County in 1825, Welch would eventually each the rank of captain in the Confederate Army. He also served in the Virginia state legislature representing Kanawha County during the Civil War.

After the war, Welch (along with others) began surveying the Pocahontas No. 3 coal stream in the southern part of the state. His account and endorsement was published and help bring investors like the Norfolk & Western Railroad to the state.

Welch is said to have bought the land at the confluence of the Elkhorn Creek and the Tug Fork for $100 and a horse.

He died in St. Albans in 1902 and is buried in Bramwell.


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