Saturday, December 13, 2014

Coal in Appalachia - The Devil's Blood

Someone asked me if I was going to write a post about Coal. Can't have a blog about Appalachia and not have something about coal they said. Well.....I have some graves of some kinfolk who died in the mines. A post with their death certificate and grave? Others who lived but suffered from black lung. Pictures of their bodies wrecked with coal dust? That's not much to write about...too sad to write about.

I'm not too big a fan of coal even though I like electricity and family members had a job because of it. I am a fan of coal miners. I honor the men and women who went into the dark, deep ground to mine it. I honor the railroad workers that handled huge machinery on steep mountain tracks to haul it.  I even honor those today who have to work on removal sites slicker than whale blubber smeared a foot deep in steep mountain passes......but to me, it is the Devil's blood.

In the early 1900s it is said there were half a million miners in this country with most of them in Appalachia. Today, they say it's about 90,000 nationwide. Because of technology, those 90,000 can mine more today than they did 100 years ago. The decline in employment in the industry has more to do with how we mine it than EPA. Same with the railroad industry. They found a way to run a train without a caboose. Overnight half the railroad jobs were wiped out.

But our memories of a lot of people employed in the industry seem to be holding us back from development of new economic industries. It really is an industry that is dying. More coal mines are still concentrated here,  so they say the decline in the industry is because it's a "War on Coal" which is really not so true. It's just times are changing and it's really a matter of whether we have the courage in Appalachia to change with it sooner rather than later. Stop putting all our eggs in a coal bucket.

So instead of writing much, I went to You Tube and found a few songs about coal that represent what I think about it. It's all I will ever write about coal. If ever there was a time we need to focus on diversity in our economy in Appalachia...that time is NOW!

Kathy Mattea video says it best.

Another by Patty Loveless

Long brutal history we have with coal.

Appalachia is changing...AGAIN! From the days we were the breadbasket of the lowland south before the Civil War, to the logging of our trees, to the coal boom. We have to find other ways to develop our economy once again.

Here is the new way to mine coal today......

Here is a coal mining song with some pretty good photos. Why I'm a fan of coal miners ....not so much coal!

That's my post for coal. End of story.