The process of pedogenesis and the development of biological communities during primary succession begin on recently exposed mineral surfaces. Following 30 years of surface exposure of reclaimed surface mining sites (Appalachian Mountains, USA), it was hypothesized that microbial communities would differ between sandstone and siltstone parent materials and to a lesser extent between vegetation types. Microbial community composition was examined by targeting bacterial and archaeal (16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA)) and fungal (internal transcribed spacer (ITS)) genes and analyzed using Illumina sequencing. Microbial community composition significantly differed between parent materials and between plots established with tall fescue grass or pitch x loblolly pine vegetation types, suggesting that both factors are important in shaping community assembly during early pedogenesis. At the phylum level, Acidobacteria and Proteobacteria differed in relative abundance between sandstone and siltstone. The amount of the heavy fraction carbon (C) was significantly different between sandstone (2.0 mg g(-1)) and siltstone (5.2 mg g(-1)) and correlated with microbial community composition. Soil nitrogen (N) cycling was examined by determining gene copy numbers of ureC, archaeal amoA, and bacterial amoA. Gene quantities tended to be higher in siltstone compared to sandstone but did not differ by vegetation type. This was consistent with differences in extractable ammonium (NH4 (+)) concentrations between sandstone and siltstone (16.4 vs 8.5 μg NH4 (+)-N g(-1) soil), suggesting that nitrification rates may be higher in siltstone. Parent material and early vegetation are important determinants of early microbial community assembly and could be drivers for the trajectory of ecosystem development over longer time scales.