Alex P. Schust will present “The Genealogy of West Virginia’s Leading Coal Producing County” at the Thursday evening meeting of the Genealogy Club in the Archives and History Library. The discussion will take place from 6 – 7:30 p.m., Sept. 8 and is free and open to the public.

Schust will base his presentation on his three books about McDowell County. Gary Hollow, Coalwood and Billion Dollar Coalfield illustrate how coal mining took McDowell County from a frontier outpost in 1888 to West Virginia’s second largest county in population by 1920. McDowell County ranked third in population in 1930, 1940 and 1950 behind Kanawha and Cabell counties, with its 1950 population approaching 100,000. Schust’s talk will cover the contributions of the land owners, coal operators, railroad companies and laborers to the growth of the county as coal operations built 106 of the 125 named communities in McDowell County. He will include how the changing energy consumption patterns reduced the 2010 population to 22,113.

Schust hails from McDowell County’s Gary Hollow, which contained more than 21 coal mining operations and the largest coal preparation plant in the world. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and a master’s degree in engineering management. Schust spent nearly 40 years in aviation and international air traffic management and gave seminars around the world on the applications of data communications and satellite technology to air traffic management. He retired in 2006 and has since begun a second career of documenting the contribution of West Virginia coal to the industrialization of America.

Advance registration for the program is not required, but is encouraged. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163, or by e-mail at Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information about the discussion or the club, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.

The Archives and History Library is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday. The library is closed on Sunday.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.