Whitesburg KY

Coal is Appalachia’s life’s blood

As I have said before, coal is the life’s blood of Appalachian existence. Although it is a negative topic to many people even here in this region, it is still a known fact.

People complain about it polluting the air and yet don’t realize we have things we use every day that pollute the air even worse than coal.

I for one am not in favor of nuclear energy to replace coal to generate electricity. But coal is not just for power because, believe it or not, some people even cook and heat their houses and other places with it. It involves quite a bit of labor, but those who use it are willing to make the sacrifice.

Many years ago a lot of families would have their own coal bank (an opening on a hillside into a seam of coal). They dug out the coal they used, mostly with a pick and shovel, and sometimes lying down because the coal seam was so small.

They didn’t think very much about their own safety. They only thought of providing for their families, and many paid the ultimate price.

A father who worked in the coal mine for a living considered it an honor for his sons to follow in his footsteps because mining was a family tradition, just like farming and other endeavors.

Many, many years ago miners never dreamed of a thing called compensation. They only thought of caring for their families, and it was a common sight to see a miner go into the mine with a hand-rolled cigarette dangling from his lips, or a pipe in his mouth.

They were a rare breed, and still are.

The only light they had was an open flame, carbide, or oil with a wick protruding from a type of canister secured to his old cloth cap. It’s a miracle there weren’t more accidents than there were.

More later from the funny farm until next time.

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