Ronceverte Elementary students learn about coal mining

On May 1, Ronceverte’s Second Grade team (Mrs. Salina Butler, Mrs. Deborah Johnson and Mrs. Darlene Weikle) invited Charles (Chuck) Dunbar from Arch Coal, Inc. to give a hands-on presentation on coal mining past and present.

Dunbar is a native of Rainelle, in Greenbrier County, (son of Dolan and Hope Dunbar). He is a 4th generation coal miner who has worked the mining industry since May of 1977 on both surface and underground operations in Utah, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Dunbar has been in various production and management positions from coal crew to chief engineer to general manager and company president. In September of 2013, Dunbar was recognized as the Distinguished Engineer of Mines by the West Virginia University Department of Mining and Engineering. “Both my grandfathers worked in the mines for most of their careers and this is what got me interested in mining. I received a full scholarship from West Virginia University in Mining Engineering when I graduated from Greenbrier West High School,” stated Dunbar.

Through personal stories/experience, antique maps, photographs and PowerPoints that he made, in addition to his collection of coal mining artifacts from the past, Dunbar allowed the students to have a hands-on experience of trying on mining equipment (present day), mining hats from cloth to metal, pick up petrified tree pieces from a coal forest, look at mining script from various coal camps, dinner buckets, core samples, fossils and other items too numerous to mention. Dunbar also provided time for students to ask questions. “I thought the students had some very insightful questions. I have really enjoyed coming to Ronceverte Elementary and sharing the history of coal,” said Dunbar.

The students had been studying Coal Camps and mining history (past and present) for several weeks in preparation for a field trip on May 8 to the Beckley Exhibition Coal mines. “Mr. Dunbar’s collection and the fact that he allowed everything (except the fragile wooden bird cage) to be touched and handled, really added to the students knowledge base. One of our student’s fathers even made an authentic Sticking Tommy and sent it in for the students to see, touch and research,” said Deborah Johnson, second grade teacher.


Joe Baker tries on miner’s equipment as Chuck Dunbar looks on
Joe Baker tries on miner’s equipment as Chuck Dunbar looks on