DuPont High Alumnus Inducted into West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame

By Thomas, Clint | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), April 24, 2019 | Go to article overview

DuPont High Alumnus Inducted into West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame


Thomas, Clint, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


For his more than 50 years of service in - and to - West Virginia's coal industry, James Corsaro of Hurricane was inducted into the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame recently.

Corsaro was born in 1943 in a mining camp at Stickney, Raleigh County, to immigrant parents from southern Italy. His father and both grandfathers were coal miners. The family moved to the Kanawha Valley, where Corsaro graduated from DuPont High School and attended the West Virginia University School of Mines, earning a bachelor's degree in 1966 and a master's degree in Mining Engineering in 1968.

"The dean of the boys at DuPont High was the one who suggested it when he found out I wanted to go into engineering, Corsaro said. "He knew I'd appreciate some financial help with a scholarship. That's what really got me into the West Virginia University School of Mines.

During his studies at WVU, he met his future wife, Betty Sequence. They celebrated 50 years of marriage recently and have three sons, Michael, David and Matthew, and six grandchildren.

Early career

After a stint as a research engineer at the School of Mines, Corsaro began working for Eastern Associated Coal Company at the Harris Mine and then at Federal One as chief engineer. He became superintendent of Federal Two in 1972 at age 29, the youngest superintendent ever for Eastern at the time.

He was instrumental in the installation of the first longwall mining machine at Federal Two, which led to new production records for the company.

"It was early on in the stages of development for longwall mining, and it was really starting to take hold in the United States at that time, Corsaro said. "Longwall mining was advanced at that time in England, and I had gone to England to look at some of the equipment and some of the processes and try to decide what kind of equipment we wanted.

"The workers were receptive to it, and it ensured the economic viability of the operations, he said.

He progressed through the Federal Two ranks to become division manager in Northern West Virginia and general manager of the newly developed Wells Complex in Southern West Virginia.

Improving mine safety

In 1980, Corsaro became Vice President for Safety and Training, where he was charged with improving the safety culture of the company. During that period, as a result of the improvements accomplished, Corsaro provided expert testimony before the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Underground Mine Safety regarding the development and implementation of effective safety programs and reduction of mine accidents and injuries at Eastern Coal.

"Safety has made tremendous strides from my entry into coal mining through today, he said. "The accident rate has improved tremendously. The goal today is not to reduce accidents; the goal today is to eliminate mining accidents entirely. I think last year in West Virginia we had four fatalities.

In 1986, Corsaro was appointed Vice President of Corporate Engineering. After Eastern was acquired by Peabody Coal a year later, he joined Carbon Industries, an ITT Industries company, and subsequently became president of Carbon Industries Inc. in 1992.

The assets of Carbon Industries were sold to Penn Virginia Operating Co. in 1999 and Corsaro served as Vice President of the West Virginia properties until his retirement in 2012. …

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