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MN&WR: Exploring the Complicated Legacy of Coal

MN&WR: Exploring the Complicated Legacy of Coal

  • Phillip Johnson’s property is strip-mined legally, but without his and the majority of his siblings’ consent. – Pike Co., Kentucky
  • Greg Wagner’s dedication of a permanent marker of the Scotia Mine Disaster in 2010 revisited on the 40th Anniversary of the disaster.
  • Jeremy Brock, underground miner from Evarts, Kentucky, shares his story with Malcolm J. Wilson and Humans of Central Appalachia.
MN 3-10-16

This edition of Mountain News & World Report brings us the complicated legacy that coal is leaving in the mountains of southeastern, Kentucky.  While on one hand we are proud to be miners and the children of miners, and we are grateful for the good paying jobs the industry has brought to the region, on the other hand, we are left wondering what now.  In this time when the coal industry is in decline, we are reminded that the changes brought about by over a century mining coal aren’t easily adjusted.  The first segment of this episode shares the story of Phillip Johnson and his family whose land has been strip-mined without their consent in recent years not unlike what was seen in the days of the Broadform Deed.  While use of the broadform deed ended in 1988 through popular vote, the Johnsons found that there continues to be means by which a company can mine for minerals underneath the ground of a landowner who has not agreed to mining.  Not only can they, but they can do so perfectly legally in Kentucky.  WMMT contributor, Parker Hobson, brings us the story in collaboration with Tarence Ray of Appalachian Voices who has provided the photo of the Johnson property for this post.  You can read Ray’s article and see more photographs at this link.

Then, we revisit coverage from WMMT’s Rich Kirby in 2010 of the dedication of a permanent marker in remembrance of the Scotia Mine Disaster.  March 9, 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of two  mine explosions in Letcher Co., Kentucky.  Dr. Greg Wagner gave an informative and thought-provoking commemorative speech revealing the complexities and sorrows these tragedies leave behind.  And, finally, we have the story of Jeremy Brock of Evarts, Kentucky in our ongoing feature with Humans of Central Appalachia.  Brock is an underground miner, father, and competition barbecuer.  Like all of us, he’s wondering what happens when the mining jobs are all gone.  Will his passion for barbecue be enough to carry him and his family through?

Mountain News & World Report is a bi-weekly production of WMMT, and new episodes air every other Thursday at 6pm on WMMT, with a repeat broadcast the following Sunday morning at 10:30.  To listen to previous episodes, check out our streaming archives.


appalachian history,
coal industry,
economic transition,
energy & environment,
wmmt news,