Coal mining has been a part of Kentucky since the state was admitted to the union - and you can experience that world and learn more about its history with a visit to the Kentucky Coal Museum and Portal 31 Exhibition Coal Mine.
The Kentucky Coal Museum, in Benham, KY, is uniquely qualified to educate about coal mining camps and the Kentucky coal industry because, less than one hundred years ago, the building housing the Kentucky Coal Museum was company commissary - a bustling center of life - for a Kentucky coal town: Benham Coal Camp!
Today, the Kentucky Coal Museum is busy preserving and exhibiting the artifacts and experiences of Benham and other eastern Kentucky coal camps. Since opening in 1990, the Kentucky Coal Museum has continued to expand and now boasts over 20 exhibits on 4 levels, all illustrating the lives of Kentucky coal families through pictures, dioramas, interactive exhibits, displays, and more.
Visitors will learn about the natural history of Appalachian coal deposits; see what life - both domestic and work - was like in a company coal camp; view an extensive collection of coal mining photos; learn about mine safety and rescue throughout the years; the African American coal camp experience; visit Butcher's Hollow in the Loretta Lynn Coal Miner’s Daughter exhibit; and visit a replica mine that simulates the underground mining experience.
Better yet, just up the road in Lynch, the museum maintains Portal 31 - Kentucky's first exhibition coal mine - where you can tour a real, historic mine shaft, complete with animatronic miners in vintage clothing! You'll travel back in time as you don your headlamp hardhat and clamber into the mantrip for a rail ride into the bowels of the mine, with eight informative stops along the way.
Disneyland has nothing on Portal 31 Exhibition Coal Mine ... just sayin'.