Updated 11/4/13

In Podcast #67 the Trekkers take you to the first coal mine in the United States, Midlothian Mines.  Surprisingly, it’s not in the Appalachian Plateau region.  It’s in the Piedmont region. This area has many of other firsts.  Midlothian was the site of the first paved road in Virginia and one of the first railroads in Virginia, both of which were built because of the coal industry here.  First we visit the fourth grade students at Swift Creek Elementary who wrote letters to us telling about this amazing place, then we head over to the nearby Midlothian Mines Park. Discover what the huge wooden structure is in the middle of the park, see the ruins of the old mines, find out about the dangerous life of the coal miners, and learn how coal ended up here in Midlothian. Come on, let’s go trekking!

Midlothian supposedly got its name because the two Wooldridge brothers who first opened the mines were from different regions in Scotland called West Lothian and East Lothian.  When they built a house here, they each wanted to name it after their own hometown, so they compromised and called it Mid-Lothian (in those days people named their houses, like Monticello, Montpelier, Red Hill, Mount Vernon, and Gunston Hall).  Later, the Woodlridge brothers called their mines Midlothian, and then the town that grew up around the mines was called Midlothian too.  The Wooldridge home still stands in Midlothian today and is now a restaurant. The coal from the Midlothian Mines was shipped all over the east coast and President Thomas Jefferson even ordered some of it to be used in the White House!  In honor of its coal mining history, Chesterfield County, where Midlothian is located, has a a picture of a coal miner on its state seal.. 

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Piedmont Region

SOL Correlation:

VS.1i The student will develop skills for historical and geographical analysis, including the ability to i) analyze and interpret maps to explain relationships among landforms, water features, climatic characteristics, and historical events.

VS.2b The student will demonstrate knowledge of the physical geography and native peoples, past and present, of Virginia by b) locating and describing Virginia’s Coastal Plain (Tidewater), Piedmont, Blue Ridge Mountains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau;

VS.4b The student will demonstrate knowledge of life in the Virginia colony by describing how the culture of colonial Virginia reflected the origins of European (English, Scots-Irish, German) immigrants, Africans, and American Indians.

VS.8c The student will demonstrate knowledge of the reconstruction of Virginia following the Civil War by describing the importance of railroads, new industries, and the growth of cities to Virginia’s economic development.