Thursday, June 5, 2008

Van Lear Kentucky 1910 Real Photo Postcard

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I have mentioned before that "Real Photo" postcards were out of favor until the last 20 years because they are black and white and kind of drab next to the pretty colored printed postcards. Eventually however, people began to understand that this was an accurate view of a moment in time at whatever location was pictured. Academics and historians were the prime buyers for a long time but others began to realize their value. Today's post card is a real photo view of Van Lear Kentucky looking West. Doesn't look like much of a town but the writing on the back, postmarked Feb 1 1910 from Van Lear KY, is from a store owner and says in part: "all well but so busy I do not get time to eat half the time. We are doing about $5,000 business now and only have two men but getting another tomorrow. ... You can see the store in this picture, also our house marked X." The marked house is the second one on the left and I assume the store is on the right. Based on the information below from Wikipedia, this postcard shows the town in its infancy.

The town was named for Van Lear Black, a director of Consolidation Coal Company (Consol). John Caldwell Calhoun Mayo bought the coal rights to the land along Miller's Creek in Johnson County which he later sold to Northern Coal and Coke which was then bought by Consol. Consol built five miles of railroad into the area with money from Van Lear Black's Fidelity Trust and five underground coal mines were opened and operated from 1910 through 1946 and the population peaked at 4,000. In 1945, Consol merged with Pittsburgh Coal Company which then sold the Miller's Creek properties. Today, about 1600 people live in unincorporated Van Lear. This postcard can be found in my Kentucky listings on my website Moody's Postcards.

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