Visiting the Ruins of the Abandoned Town of Brooklyn — in West Virginia

“A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. The park encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.”

Visiting the Ruins of the Abandoned Town of Brooklyn — in West Virginia

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

The text you just read is from the official Internet web site of the New River Gorge National River, which is part of the National Park Service of the United States in southern West Virginia…

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…and the Cunard River Access Road is one of the many ways you can get to the New River and enjoy such activities as hiking, boating, bicycling, and camping.

Before continuing with the remainder of this article and its photographs, please be sure to peruse this raw video which I took to give you an idea of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

At the end of the paved portion of the Cunard River Access Road is the official entrance to the Cunard River Access Area…

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…and just beyond that official entrance is a lone gravel road, on which I eventually drove.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Speaking of camping, one of the campgrounds along what is known as the Southside Trail is the Brooklyn Campground, to which the gravel road goes.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

After checking out of the Sleep Inn Beaver – Beckley hotel property early one warm winter morning — the complete review of my experience of staying there one night is located here — I decided to explore this area, as I am originally from Brooklyn in New York.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

At the end of the gravel road is an ersatz parking area with no delineated parking spaces — as well as information signs.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Welcome to Brooklyn!

That part was easy to read; but the signage was mostly obscured by moisture from the morning dew.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

At first glance, the woods seem to be comprised of indistinguishable piles of river rocks randomly scattered about and throughout the area…

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…but a closer look actually reveals what were once the walls, chimneys, foundations, and other remains of the houses of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

An old building foundation sits near the parking area for the Brooklyn Trail.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

The remains of the coal tipple — which once carried coal from the mine opening above down to the New River — are located above the camping area for disabled people.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Not much remains of what was once little more than a small mining town — although a few ruins of significance do remain.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Inside this building is what appears to have once been a fireplace.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

The town of Brooklyn was established in the 1890s at approximately the same time as a coal mine of the same name.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Brooklyn is one of the easier abandoned towns of the New River area to visit — primarily because of the Cunard River Access Road and the short gravel road.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Finlow was the name under which the post office operated and not Brooklyn — but that post office officially closed in 1966.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

“State records indicate that the Finlow mine was in operation from 1894 to 1895, and the Brooklyn mine from 1896 to 1904”, according to this article at Atlas Obscura. “The Brooklyn mine changed hands quite a few times during its operation, with its longest tenure under Scotia Coal and Coke Co from 1911 to 1953.”

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

The population of the area which comprised of Brooklyn and Finlow was approximately 166 people in 1910.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

What appears to be drainage pipes — which are placed at regular intervals — extend from this slanted foundation wall of some sort.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Nature has a way of reclaiming what mankind has built — and lost.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

For example, green moss has overtaken the top of this brick.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

One rusting artifact of what was the town of Brooklyn juts out from a foundation beneath the leaves on the ground.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

About half a mile onto the Brooklyn Trail, the remains of an old company store lie on the right-hand side of the trail, according to the aforementioned article. Soon after, the trail opens up to a clearing.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

The Brooklyn mine had 50 beehive coke ovens​ and 72 employees working in the mine as of Friday, June 30, 1899. The New River Smokeless Coal Company took control of the Cunard, Brooklyn, Red Ash and Rush Run mines in 1904 — all of which had approximately 48 workers at that time.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Do not let the beauty of the serene and picturesque New River with its wooded hilly surroundings fool you, as a total of 184 people died in the nearby Red Ash Mine and Layland Mine in three separate incidents which occurred on Tuesday, March 6, 1900; Saturday, March 18, 1905; and Tuesday, March 2, 1915…

…but what has been called the worst industrial disaster in the history of the United States occurred in 1930 with the drilling of the three mile hydro-electric water diversion tunnel, which is known as the Hawks Nest Tunnel and is still in operation today. It was built to supply power to a Industrial complex on the nearby Kanawha River. The tunnel was dug through high grade silica rich sandstone which when drilled produced a very fine dust, that when breathed, was comparable to inhaling finely ground glass particles into the lungs — and the men were working in confined spaces with no ventilation, dust control, or dust masks. Quickly they fell victim to silicosis, the deadly accumulation of silica particles in the lungs. The men were unable to tolerate these conditions for more than a couple of months before they fell ill and had to be replaced.

The mystery of the Hawks Nest tragedy is the uncertainty of its final results, as the companies which were involved never acknowledged responsibility, or provided information to help account for the total number of people who died or were disabled by the tunnels construction. The estimates for deaths from this tragedy range from 700 to 2,000 people, with several thousand more sick and disabled.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Brooklyn was one of the last mining camps to be developed in the New River area before the mine was permanently closed in the late 1950s.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Brooklyn is one of three coal towns which you will find located along the Southside Trail.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Several picnic tables are located near the ruins of the abandoned town of Brooklyn — many of which are near the shore of the New River…

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…and each of the picnic tables have benches and a place on which to grill food.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

A public boat launch on the New River is located between the picnic tables and the parking area.

Brooklyn West Virginia

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Summary


There are no admission or parking fees to enjoy Brooklyn; so you can stay as long as you like, as it is open daily during daylight hours and has no lights to illuminate the area at night. Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes to take in Brooklyn and its natural surroundings.

I did not use any facilities while I visited Brooklyn; but the building adjacent to the entrance of the property seemed to be equipped with facilities if you need to use them. Just the same, I would advise ensuring that you do not need to use a toilet or a sink prior to visiting Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn in West Virginia is not the only Brooklyn outside of New York which I visited. I have been to the town of Breukelen in the Netherlands, which is the namesake of Brooklyn.

All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.


 

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3 thoughts on “Visiting the Ruins of the Abandoned Town of Brooklyn — in West Virginia”

  1. chris says:

    Here is an idea, stay away from the backwards racist state instead.

  2. Fester says:

    Thanks for article Brian. There are Interesting places so close to home, yet I’m al ways focused on travel afar.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You are more than welcome, Fester

      …and I completely agree with you.

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