"Bon Air Mountain" - Written and Performed by Stacy Lawson
In 1882, industrial and railroad demands for bituminous coal prompted entrepreneur George Gibbs Dibrell to begin the Bon Air Coal, Land and Lumber Company which in 1897 became the Bon Air Coal and Iron Company. Responding to the same demand in 1903, Richard Hill and Jesse Walling established the Clifty Creek Coal and Coke Company. Both operations were on the Cumberland Plateau in White County, Tennessee. Four mining locations were opened within a twenty-mile radius on Bon Air Mountain. Four towns were also built to accommodate the needs of incoming workers and their families.
The mining communities provided employment, homes, shopping facilities, schools, churches, and amusements. Miners and their families came from both foreign lands and nearby communities to live in the coal towns of Bon Air, Ravenscroft, Eastland, and Clifty.
Market demands for coal were the economic impetus that was responsible for the establishment of the mining towns on Bon Air Mountain. Companies and miners prospered when conditions were good and suffered when they were bad. The two companies merged in 1919 and in 1926, became a part of Tennessee Products Corporation. Various economic factors eventually combined to make it commercially unfeasible to operate the mines. All of the mines were closed and the miners dispersed in order to find jobs in other locations.
An era in the economy and society of White County, Tennessee, which had lasted for over fifty years, had ended.
LIFE IN THE COAL TOWNS OF WHITE COUNTY, TENNESSEE, 1882-1936
By - Betty Sparks Huehls