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Watts Museum

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West Virginia is a state with deep roots in the coal and petroleum industries. The Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources is dedicated to preserving and promoting the social, cultural and technological history of these industries. The Watts Museum collection includes items ranging from minerals once housed at the Smithsonian to a variety of glassware made in West Virginia. Its current exhibit, “Man Power/Mine Power: The Evolution and Impact of Coal Mining Machines,” explores the mechanization of West Virginia’s coal mining industry, from late 19th-century coal mining with picks and shovels to the huge longwall mining machines used today.

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Watts Items

PICK (left): Surveyor's compass 
Coal companies rely heavily on surveyors to provide accurate property measurements both above ground and below. Though technology has advanced over the years, the role of surveyors in the mining industry has remained fundamentally the same. Much of a surveyor’s work ensures that mines comply with safety regulations and industry standards to help keep miners safe.

PICK (center): Clifford's Phoenix mining lamp
Designed by mining engineer William Clifford, the Phoenix lamp is part of the Watts Museum’s Clifford-Beard collection of mining lamps. It is the only known Phoenix lamp in the U.S. Around 1915, WVU’s School of Mines acquired the collection, which consists of 103 lamps. At the time of its invention in 1888, the Phoenix lamp was considered safer than all other styles. Its use did not catch on and very few were made.

PICK (right): Pit pony shoe 
After electric locomotives were introduced in the mines in the late 19th century, many mines used a combination of both motor- and animal-powered haulage systems to move coal out of the mines. This horseshoe was made for a pit pony by Angelo Organtini. Born in Italy, Organtini arrived in the U.S. in 1910 and worked as a blacksmith for the coal industry in Cascade, north of Masontown in Preston County, W.Va. 
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ELIZA NEWLAND Collections and Program Manager

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AARON HOLLIS Graduate Research Assistant

Staff Picks Archive

Core Arboretum

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The herbarium in the Life Sciences Building is like an encyclopedia of plants that were once alive.

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Isaac Asimov

Dive into a comprehensive collection of beloved science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.

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Mark Twain

Take a look into Mark Twain's life in WVU's Rare Book Room. His pre-glued scrapbooks were a huge hit. His hard-to-understand memory builder game? Not so much.

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Pharmacy Museum

What do a pickled leech, bleeding instruments and quinine have in common? The WVU Cook-Hayman Pharmacy Museum.

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Political Cartoons

In this presidential election season, explore this collection of witty and biting cartoons from days gone by.

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Watts Museum

The historically rich West Virginia coal and petroleum industries are being preserved at the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum.

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WVU Press

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WVU started the nation’s first zip canopy tour operated by a university. Get to know the canopy tour from two of our tour guides.

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Cover Flashback

Woodburn Hall

The hidden history of Woodburn Hall is chronicled in generations of names etched in the plaster on the walls of the small cupola room overlooking the Monongahela River.

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