Seemingly against all odds, Iaeger has survived.
Coal mines have closed and people have left, but the 100-year-old town lives on.
Its story will come alive this week, thanks to a special centennial celebration that has taken months to plan.
Free musical concerts (including the Kentucky Headhunters), a parade and memorial service are part of the festivities that will begin Thursday night and run through Saturday.
But it won’t only be a chance for local folks to reminisce and reflect.
A special commemorative postmark has been designed for this historic event featuring an early settler, Col. William G.W. Iaeger.
It will be unveiled downtown Saturday, but even people who can’t attend will be able to take advantage of this special offer.
Interested individuals can send a stamped, self-addressed envelope and it will be stamped with the pictorial postmark.
The cost is 49 cents, which is the current First-Class mail rate and requests must be received by Aug. 5.
Requests should be sent to USPS, 5265 Coal Heritage Road, Iaeger, West Virginia, 24844.
Mayor Joe Ford, who helped spearhead the celebration, has spent considerable time studying and compiling local history.
It’s an impressive story that deserves to be told, and there’s no better time than now.
Although the town was incorporated in 1917 it was previously known by several other names including Lewis Camp, Fork of the River and Williamsberg.
The deceased Iaeger was reportedly a friend of President Abraham Lincoln. Some of his family members will be coming from Pennsylvania to be in the parade, Ford said.
Other parade participants are expected to include the 439th U.S. Army Marching Band and WVU Mountaineer Mascot Troy Clemons.
Primarily a coal mining town, it once had a population of about 1,600 residents but now only a little more than 300 people live there.
Diversity wasn’t an issue, because people lived and worked together as a community regardless of their nationality, Ford said.
Now there are only about three African-American families left, and that strikes a familiar chord since Ford was the town’s first black police officer, police chief and mayor.
Celebrating the town’s centennial is a way to honor the past while also looking ahead.
“People came here when the coal mines were big. I mean there used to be mines in just about all the hollows around here. We probably won’t ever see anything like that again in this area, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a future,” Ford said.
Drawing more tourists to the community continues to be one of his goals.