Artifact Title: Appalachian Coal

Medium: Photograph

Photographer: Amanda M. Nichols

Year: 2013

Location: Kayford Mountain, West Virginia

Notes: Coal collected at the homestead of Mountain Keeper Larry Gibson at Kayford Mountain

Image Credit: Amanda Nichols

TERA Curator: Amanda Nichols

Appalachian Coal

Located in Raleigh County, West Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains, Kayford Mountain has been one of the most contested mountaintop removal coal mining sites since mining began there in 1986. In the mid-1990s, resident Larry Gibson became an outspoken opponent of the mining and began giving tours of the area to raise awareness of the environmental and social injustices enacted in the region. In 2004, he formed the Keeper of the Mountains foundation and went on to establish Stanley Heirs Park on his family homestead as a land trust and site of public opposition to the mining. Nearby, coal slurry – a combination of coal waste and toxic chemicals used in the coal washing process – is piped into an eight-million-gallon capacity valley fill at Brushy Fork, where it will remain for generations to come. Despite widespread opposition, mountaintop removal coal mining continues throughout Appalachia today.