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October Sky Festival
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      Big Creek High School
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Rocket Boys
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 October Sky
   Filming Locations & Info:
   Oliver Springs
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      2010 Oliver Springs Festival
   Petros TN 1
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   About the Filming
   Press Kit
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   The Making of October Sky
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   Filming in Petros
   Coalwood Cookbook
   The Clear Fork Series
   Red Helmet
Coal Mining
   Old Mines Are Dangerous
   Getting the Coal Out
   Pocahontas Exhibition Mine
   Beckley Exhibition Mine
Visiting Coalwood
   Coalwood Comm. Church
Reader Comments
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Reader Comments

Below are a few comments readers have sent us about this web site.  Thank you!

WOW!!! This is just FANTASTIC, Charlie - a labor of love indeed! I can't wait for Coalwood and the RBoys to see it....
Linda Hickam
Huntsville, Alabama


Fine job on your new web page.
David Goad


What a wonderful site! You make my job of answering emails so much easier as I cut and paste your website for directions, activities and other happenings for the festival. We are busy as bees right now getting the final touches on the festival. It is hard to believe that this is the "8th Annual October Sky Fall Festival"!   We love our non-paying job because we love where we live. WE are very proud of our small community and hope that everyone enjoys the festival. Just look for anyone of the members in the identifiable shirts with "CCRA Staff" on the back of their shirts. We will be able to direct you where you need to be. Again, thanks so much for the info! Hope to see EVERYONE at the festival! Thanks again and God Bless!
Peggy Blevins
Coalwood, West Virginia
September 19, 2006)



"And I do have a favorite engineering movie: October Sky, the story of former-NASA engineer Homer Hickam. The movie, which details Hickam’s effort to learn rocket science while growing up in Coalwood, WV, should be required viewing for all American high school physics students. It may be Hollywood’s only movie that portrays a bright young science student as a normal child. The movie and the book it was based on have become so popular that they’ve spawned an official Homer Hickam website and an annual October Sky Festival in Coalwood."

Chuck Murray
Senior Editor
Design News
December 2007

Read the entire article on the Design News blog.


I was on your web site and I didn't see anything about the best football team Big Creek ever had; the 1934 State champs and the 1933 team that only lost one game and was runner up champs and the 1932 that lost two games. The last player to pass away was Grover Morefield #30 center for the single wing team. Grover passed away 8-1-03; he was 89 and resided with his wife Mary Stutso Morefield who was a cheer leader during those years. All are dead except Mary; she just turned 95. I'm their son Richard Morefield. I live in Birch Run, MI. Have a great day.
Rick.  November 24, 2010




Photo of Patryk with the Bytom, Poland, Town Hall in the background.  Click to enlarge.
GPS Coordinates (using Google Earth):
50°20'59.70"N 18°54'40.43"E

Another photo of Patryk with the city-limits sign on Bytom.  Click to enlarge.
GPS Coordinates (using Google Earth):
50°23'58.56"N 18°53'27.15"E
Recently I’ve seen this wonderful movie called "October Sky" a movie about beautiful city of Coalwood and its great citizens. Even if you might think that is way too long distance Coalwood and my city Bytom in Poland both has something in common, respect for family values and for hard working people. Our cities were in the past very close to mining industry, in Coalwood was one and no longer exists in my hometown were eight mining companies and left one. In some way our cities are having the same problems in the past and nowadays.

In some way i feel mentally connected with your city that’s why if only this will be ever possible I will do my best to visit you someday in the future.

Best regards
Bytom, Poland
January 27, 2010


Patryk mailed me a DVD called Bytom energia kultury, which I believe translates to Bytom's cultural energy.  This is a beautiful video that I think everyone will enjoy, no matter what their nationality.  The DVD was apparently commissioned by the Bytom City Hall, and, fortunately, it has been uploaded to YouTube.  For more information on Bytom, please visit the City Hall of Bytom's web site: www.bytom.pl.





I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the website. I looked for it after watching October Sky for the second time. It really caught my eye because I happened to be the Manager of Personnel Administration for Y.S.& T. in their Youngstown General Office (it was actually located in Boardman, Ohio) during the 1970's and kept the personnel records for Olga Coal's salaried folks. It brought back fond memories many of which have unfortunately faded with time. Even though I never got to visit the mines or Coalwood itself, I got a good feel for the people working and living there through contacts with Olga Coal office personnel. I could not know for sure, but I suspect that many of the mining families were great grandsons and daughters of British Isle folks who came to this country willing to do what ever it took to make a better life for themselves with no thought of asking for help from a central government.

Regardless, thanks for your dedication and time to put the site together. I hope it expands as time goes by and as you get more information.
Bill Bowling

William L. "Larry" Bowling
November 27, 2008


I can't believe I waited this long to search for "COALWOOD" on the internet. What a fine website!

I was born (Morgantown) in 1941 and raised (Charleston) in West-By-God-Virginia. I am very close to Homer Hickham's age. The Sputnik event was one factor which made me go and get degrees in Physics and Computer Science. Those who lived in that era know the very strong and truly alarming effect that satellite had on U.S. thinking... It was even more dramatic than shown in the October Sky film.

I do hope I can attend a future October Sky Festival, and maybe get a chance to meet one or more of the original Rocket Boys.

I just wanted to say to Homer that his commentary and remarks in the "extra features" on the October Sky DVD mark him as the very best ambassador for West Virginia I have ever seen or heard.

Homer Hickam displays such great, genuine, warm, down-home characteristics. His genuine warmth comes through like no other commentary on any DVD I have ever seen or heard.

Hollywood directors, producers, costume designers, etc. can't come close to Homer's genuine warmth; they should listen carefully and take a good lesson from him. But they'll never equal Homer, because his warmth obviously comes straight from his heart.

Thanks, Homer, for representing us West Virginians so wonderfully.
Diamondville, Wyoming


My mom went to Big Creek HS. My Grandpa who passed away years ago worked in the coal mine. I remember when my mom and aunt watched October Sky they cried.  It brought back a lot of memories for them. In October Sky, the grammar teacher on the movie was also a teacher of theirs, though they were a few years younger than the boys, but they remember them. Canada and West Virginia is a very different life style, but I so very much enjoy your website as it makes me feel closer to my mother's side and helps me understand how they lived in such a small place, and I truly understand why they get so emotional and so proud to be from War and Coalwood.
Brooks, Alberta, Canada
February 2, 2007


My family is originally from War, W.Va. My grandmother Fanny Fite raised several children there and had a boarding house in War. One of her daughters back in the early 60's by the name of Rosalee Fite Dykes had an antique shop on main street in War. I have been out of contact for over 25 years with all my family there. If there is any of the Fite family could you please contact me. My father's name was Roy W. Fite, and my mother's name was Nettie Gilbert Fite also of War. Her mother's name was Callie Gilbert and she also lived in War up above Big Creek High School. I do remember my cousins names were REX, LINDA, AND BONNIE DYKES. Their father was Julius Dykes and they lived up on the hill from Big Creek High School .If anyone knew any of my family would love to hear and read stories. Thank you for your time. Sandy
Sandra Fite Stevens
January 25, 2007


Homer Hickam took us back to a time and place that we who were born in the forties remember. His writing is remarkable.....he truly captured the era, opening up a whole new world to his readers: Coalwood, West Virginia
East Bank, West Virginia
January 25, 2007


Great website. I was born and raised in the capital city of WV. I work in construction as a senior estimator in Myrtle Beach. When I worked in the field in WV before leaving like so many others I worked in Bradshaw and other similar areas. It is good to see these type of positive websites about the best state in the US. I can relate to hard work but not to coal mining. Thanks for some enlightenment, this website and of course Mr. Hickam's books.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
January 22, 2007


I am currently on duty in Iraq. I first became interested in Coalwood, West Virginia after watching October Sky.  I then read three of Mr. Hickam's books and fell in love with Coalwood. I have not had the opportunity to visit Coalwood, but lord willing and the creek don't rise, I may be able to visit in the fall of 2007.  I will eventually make it to your festival. In the meantime, I will continue to visit your Coalwood website and look forward to the day that I can come and visit. I grew up in a coal mining county in southeastern Kentucky. My family still lives there. It is a wonderful place to visit when time permits. I realize that the Coalwood that I know from the movie and the book no longer exists, but the memories still linger in my mind.
S.F.C. Terry W. Mullins
From Iraq
October 28, 2006

I really love this site, it's fantastic. I haven't yet visited Coalwood, but, from what I've seen on this website, Coalwood looks like a very beautiful place, and I'd love to come up for a visit. Particularly, duing the October Sky Festival, when I can see all the Rocket Boys, especially my favorite Rocket Boy Homer Hickam. After autographing my book "Rocket Boys." It would be my pleasure to visit Coalwood and meet, not just Homer himself, but all the Coalwood people. This site is very, very interesting, and I love it.
Richmond, Virginia

Nice site. Lovely. Makes me wanna cry.
Welch, West Virginia


My husband and I are from War and Newhall. This site makes both of us very homesick. JOB WELL DONE! Those were the good-ole days.
Kings Mountain, North Carolina


My son and I loved the movie October Sky and still watch it to this day every chance we get. One Saturday in a late summertime, I got edgy and said let's go see if we can find it.  Knowing this trip was a good distance, we drove anyway, having traveled other places in this country by plane but never sightseeing in my own state.   I had no idea what I was in for. I must say it was a great trip for me, my son and my fiancé at the time who loved the movie as well. The people in the town were so helpful when telling me the points of interest in their fair town.  I look forward to returning one day because my son and I love setting our own rockets off. Special thanks to the townspeople of Coalwood.  We got some great pictures we can keep for years.
Dunbar, West Virginia


Wow! This web site is really cool. I've learned from Coalwood that coal miners are very important people. And they're very brave too. I hope to one day be able to visit Coalwood and see where all these amazing things happened!
Concord, California


I'm from Richmond, Virginia, and an avid reader of all of Homer's books, and I love visiting this site. Coalwood looks very much like a place I'd like to visit. I'm planning, so far to come to the 2006 October Sky Festival, and hope to see Homer in person, that's always been a dream of mine. Goofy as it seems, to meet my favorite Rocket Boy in person. Also, I love these Coalwood websites, they've become my favorites on the Internet.
Richmond, Virginia


My mother, formerly Marjorie Bettie Hall and her twin sister Margaret Billy Hall were raised in Coalwood, WVA. On the 26th of May [2006] they will be making a trip there to see all the old hometown places. They will be 81 years old in July. My mother has many memories of Coalwood and she hasn't forgotten anything! I hope she can find the Substation and her old home place and maybe the school. They were there in the 30's and 40's.
Disputanta, Virginia


I just finished reading "October Sky" and I am grateful to have learned more about West Virginia and around Coalwood.  I would like to visit Mrs. Riley's grave and pay respect to her sense of values. She encouraged Homer and the Rocket Boys to dream and do what they enjoyed doing: build rockets. I have also first seen the movie and showed it to my family in France. I grew up around a mine shaft where my father worked underground to feed us boys. I knew it was dangerous work as my dad came back once on a stretcher. The roof had caved in and he was trapped under tons of coal. He survived fortunately not like Mr. Bykovski.

I hope to visit the October 2007 festival and see ya all.
Chattanooga, Tennessee