Coal operator Joseph Beury was born in Pennsylvania on August 15, 1842. During the Civil War, he served as a Union captain, though he was later known as “colonel” in the West Virginia coalfields.
Beury worked in his father’s Pennsylvania anthracite mines and brought that knowledge with him to the New River Gorge about 1872. He established the Fayette County town of Quinnimont and opened the New River Coal Company mine. When the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway arrived the following year, he shipped the first load of coal from the New River Coalfield.
Beury left Quinnimont in 1876 to start the Fire Creek mines, also on New River, and later operated mines at Hawks Nest, Ansted, and elsewhere. In 1884, he and others opened Mill Creek Coal & Coke—the first mine in the Flat Top area. By buying up vast acres of land, he soon became one of the leading coal owners in southern West Virginia.
In 1903, Colonel Joe Beury died in his town of Beury in Fayette County at age 60. A stone obelisk at Quinnimont commemorates his role as a coal industry pioneer.