Coal River is located in West Virginia. In 1756, it was named for Samuel Cole, who was among its first Caucasian explorers as part of the Big Sandy expedition. It flows from its mouth at Saint Albans to the Great Kanawha for ninteen miles. The left branch going up river is the Big Coal River. Various forms of coal is deposited in its basin.
Navigation of it began in 1855, twenty-five years before the Kanawha River was dammed. In 1849, Virginia issued a charter to the Coal River Navigation Company for navigation construction and was maintained as both a private and public entity. Eight locks and dams were constructed. In 1865, the company was sold to the highest bidder, Navigation Company of the Coal River, at the Kanawha County Courthouse. It ceased operations in 1881.
William H. Dean is a native of St. Albans, West Virginia. He recieved his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964 from Morris Harvey College, and his Master of Arts degree from Marshall University in 1967. He was a Morris Harvey College history instructor.