If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Please enter your email and we will send your username and password to you.
Submitted by McCreary County Museum
Kentucky Coal Crafters is a unique business that was a fixture in McCreary County for almost fifty years. Business owners Jim and Rosetta Waters, Alvin Powell, and Milton Morrow sold the business to Mike Johnson from Pikeville, KY in October 2023.
In 1975, Dave Beams purchased KY Coal Crafters along with his brother, Johnnie Beams, who served as Business Manager. Alvin Powell was the master craftsman and created many of the coal pieces that remain in production today. Production was suspended from 2002 to 2009 when Buddy Wilson purchased the business, with Alvin once again serving as master craftsman. From 2009 to 2023, the business was owned and managed by various local citizens including Buddy Wilson, Milton Morrow, Raleigh Sizemore, Ted Baker, Alvin Powell, Jim Waters, and Rosetta Waters
According to Alvin, Jim, and Rosetta selling the business was bittersweet. Rosetta said she enjoyed working festivals and meeting people who often shared their own coal mining stories. She made numerous lifelong friends and received the honor of being named a Kentucky Colonel due to her work with KY Coal Crafters.
Her husband, Jim, is an easy-going man who loves talking with people and listening to their life stories. Jim assisted Alvin with sanding and delivering KY Coal Crafters merchandise to The Artisan Shop in Stearns. Volunteers in the shop always loved seeing Jim arrive with a box of newly crafted coal art.
For over forty-eight years, Alvin Powell created coal art for KY Coal Crafters. While many of the forms used were created by Ken Snyder, who won awards at the Kentucky State Fair, Alvin carved many of the forms himself. Coal art forms carved by Alvin includes picks, shovels, miners, trains, anvil, Mustang horse, train on a spike, miner reading his Bible, and a roof bolter miner. His favorite memory is working alongside Jim, Rosetta, and Milton. Referring to her business partners, Alvin Powell and Milton Morrow, Rosetta said, “We’re family! If one of us is hurting, we all hurt. If one of us is sick, the other two are there.”
KY Coal Crafters figures have been shipped throughout the U.S. and Canada with significant sales in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, California, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Graduates of the University of the Cumberlands (Cumberland College) received a bust of Abraham Lincoln from KY Coal Crafters for many years. The coal figures have also been sold at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN; Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum in Beckley, WV; Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC; Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, TN; and Webb’s Grocery in Paintsville, KY. In addition, KY Coal Crafters figures can be purchased in numerous Kentucky State Parks including Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, KY; Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park in Carlisle, KY; and Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park in Buckhorn, KY.
KY Coal Crafters figures are sold at the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, TN; White Pass and Yukon Route Railway in Skagway, AK, Kentucky Derby Museum Store in Louisville, KY; Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City, NC; Big Walker Lookout in Wytheville, VA; and Knoebel’s Amusement Park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. Prominently displayed at several of these venues is a banner that reads HANDCRAFTED IN STEARNS, KY.
Alvin, Rosetta, and Jim, in addition to each of the previous owners, took pride in making a quality product made in McCreary County. The current owner, Mike Johnson, owns a landscaping company in Pikeville and has been a good customer of KY Coal Crafters for many years. The Artisan Shop will continue to sell KY Coal Crafters figures. On behalf of the McCreary County Museum, I extend my sincere gratitude to KY Coal Crafters for its dedication to creating a quality product made locally for over forty-eight years.
For more information contact Debbie Kidd-Trammell at email@example.com.