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Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


During the late nineteenth century, the penetration of industrial capitalism into southern Appalachia fundamentally altered the region’s economy. Historians have thoroughly studied this period’s coal and timber industries, but little scholarly attention has been paid to the iron industry. Iron production also made great strides in both output and scale as railroads and mining increased demand for iron products. The growth of Birmingham’s iron and steel industry has dominated the studies of iron that have been done, but between the 1880s and 1920s the iron industry of southwest Virginia and east Tennessee also were thoroughly modernized. The consolidation of the Virginia Iron, Coal, and Coke Company (VIC&CC) provides an excellent lens through which to observe this region’s industrial transformation. At the turn of the twentieth century the VIC&CC consolidated ownership and management of practically all of this region’s iron industry, and for decades management attempted to compete in the national iron market. This thesis examines the conditions that made the organization of the VIC&CC possible, the company’s attempt to profitably produce iron, and the activities of two businessmen (one a native of Virginia and prominent player in the state’s iron industry, and the other a New Yorker and seasoned veteran of Wall Street) that both played integral roles in this company’s business. During the studied timeframe, coal came to dominate the company’s interests over iron, and shortly after World War I, management dissolved its iron department. Although the iron industry ultimately failed, it still played a valuable role in southern Appalachia’s economic transformation.

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