|Vicco, the Dodge City of the
East, a town that would not die, has.
Located in the
southern tip of Perry County, 12 miles from the county seat of
Hazard, this one-time watering hole for miners from some 60
miles in any direction has finally gone belly-up.
The town itself was never
much of a residential neighborhood. It was more like a
modern-day shopping center with a carnival atmosphere seven
days a week. It catered to coal companies in every
direction; there were 12 within a two-mile radius.
From about 1935 through the
early '50s, these coal companies ran at full speed and used
manpower for labor. Coal miners made a decent wage and
most of them believed in spending it. Vicco was there to
help them do just that.
The name Vicco comes from the
initials of the Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Company.
This large land company is still in Appalachia. A town
in Virginia has the same name.
At its height, Vicco had two
new car dealerships, a bakery, a Double Cola Bottling Company,
a beer dealership, a theater, shoe shop, ice plant, bus
station, hotel, baseball field, high school, laundry and a
bank. The first bank robbery in the county took place
There were pool halls, two
whiskey stores, a large department store, and 23 beer joints,
or as Mom called them, "jenny barns."
There was no local jail , so
the only police officer or town marshal, Ambrose Deaton, was
kept busy running carloads of drunks the 12-mile, one way trip
to Hazard to be locked up.
From local coal companies
with names like Raccoon Coal Company, Scratch Back, Bluebird,
Kodak, Green Ridge, and Defiance, young coal miners would
descend on Vicco on weekends for a night of drinking, loving
I feel sure that the mothers
and spouses of these young people worried as much about them
when weekends came as they did while they worked underground
all week. The danger was as great either way.
All of that is gone now, as
are the coal camps. Vicco has one branch bank, one
whiskey store, and three small grocery stores. The
streets are empty.
The only things left in Vicco
are 10 or 12 unsolved murders over the last 20 years.
The Pastime Theater is
gone. The Hole-in-the-Wall beer joint no longer
exists. The Southpoint was later converted into a
lawyer's office when the run on blacklung was at its
The carnival atmosphere that
was always present in Vicco is now replaced by a feeling of
loneliness as one drives through.