Portal 31, recognized as one of the nation’s best underground coal mining tours, will be open for visitation on Wednesday, March 21.
“We are excited to kick off a new year,” said Phyllis Sizemore, curator of the Kentucky Coal Museum, which operates Portal 31 under the auspices of Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College.
With animatronic, lifelike figures which move and talk, rear screen projection and an IMAX-like extravaganza—all deep underground, Portal 31 tells the story of mining in the Appalachian community of Lynch, once the largest coal camp in the world.
“Lynch was like many other communities in this region, so, in telling its story, we are also telling the story of many, many other mining communities,” Ms. Sizemore said.
She also noted that Kentucky Coal Museum, which is located in Benham, and Portal 31 are two of the best preserved mining communities in the nation. “In a real sense these communities are part of the museum experience,” Ms. Sizemore said.
She also noted that at one time there were hundreds of similar coal camps scattered about Appalachian. “Now most no longer exist. The majority of the houses here were built in the 1915-20 era and while they may have been renovated, they still reflect the architecture of the early part of the 20th century,” she said.
Visitors to the museum and portal, which operate on Mondays through Saturdays, are encouraged to make reservations by calling: (606) 848-1530.