"This Land: As the Mountaintops Fall, a Coal Town Vanishes"

"To reach a lost American place, here just a moment ago, follow a thin country road as it unspools across an Appalachian valley’s grimy floor, past a coal operation or two, a church or two, a village called Twilight. Beware of the truck traffic. Watch out for that car-chasing dog.

After passing an abandoned union hall with its front door agape, look to the right for a solitary house, tidy, yellow and tucked into the stillness. This is nearly all that remains of a West Virginia community called Lindytown.

In the small living room, five generations of family portraits gaze upon Quinnie Richmond, 85, who has trouble summoning the memories, and her son, Roger, 62, who cannot forget them: the many children all about, enough to fill Mr. Cook’s school bus every morning; the Sunday services at the simple church; the white laundry strung on clotheslines; the echoing clatter of evening horseshoes; the sense of home.

But the coal that helped to create Lindytown also destroyed it. Here was the church; here was its steeple; now it’s all gone, along with its people. Gone, too, are the surrounding mountaintops. To mine the soft rock that we burn to help power our light bulbs, our laptops, our way of life, heavy equipment has stripped away the trees, the soil, the rock — what coal companies call the 'overburden.'"

Dan Barry reports for the New York Times April 12, 2011.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011