Madison Coal Museum

Bituminous Coal Heritage Foundation Museum

Useful Information

Location: 347 Main Street in Madison.
Motorway 119, exit Danville, highway 85 or 17 to Madison.
(38.0646304, -81.8219515)
Open: All year Mon, Thu, Fri, Sat 12-17.
Classification: MineCoal mine SubterraneaMining Museum SubterraneaReplica Underground Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Bituminous Coal Heritage Foundation Museum, 347 Main St, Madison, WV 25130, Tel: +1-304-369-5180.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1742 first coal discovered by John Peter Salle near Peyton.
1847 first coal mining of the coal deposits along Big Coal River from Dartmont to Peyton.
1884 end of coal mining.
1994 museum created by the Boone County Development Corporation and chartered by the State of West Virginia.


The Madison Coal Museum, also called the Coal Heritage Museum, is located at 347 Main Street in Madison. They have exhibitions on mining history and geology, a company store, a miner’s home, and a locker room where miners changed for work. Highlight is a coal mine replica, which they call an interactive coal mine. Kids can take a pick, auger or drill and a shovel, and feel physically what it was like to be a coal miner.

The museum is located in Boone County, which is named for Daniel Boone, the famous hunter and explorer. The first Englishman to explore this area was John Peter Salle, who is credited for the first discovery of coal near the town of Peyton in 1742. It took more than 100 years until the coal was actually mined. Several companies started exploration in 1845 and in 1847 the first coal was mined in the coal deposits along Big Coal River from Dartmont to Peyton. The companies united to form the Coal Navigation Company and locked and dammed the river so steamboats could come up as far as Peyton. So it was possible to ship the coal to places where coal oil was distilled from it. As a result the mining ended in 1884 when it became commercially unprofitable to produce coal oil. Kerosene produced from crude oil had become a cheaper alternative.

Coal mining was revived when the railroad was built. It continues until today, in 2003 Boone County underground and surface operations produced more than 29 Million tons of coal.

The museum is based on a temporary exhibit, which was set up during the West Virginia Coal Festival by area resident R. B. Foster. To create a permanent museum the former Boone County Bank was purchased in 1994. The historic building was erected in 1924. In the same year the family of the late Tommy and Mary Frances Ellis donated an adjacent building, which was used for the museum. As a result the former bank is now the Boone Arts and Heritage Center where local artist and traveling exhibits are featured. The museum is supported by the Boone County Commission.