Wednesday, October 11, 2017

East Kentucky Trip

I know it has little to do with typewriters, but it has everything to do with my poetry collection I am working on.  I lived in Lynch in Harlan County, Kentucky for a summer and it was life changing.  I worked underground coal. These are the signs welcoming you into Kentucky as you cross the state line from Virginia, right over the highest point in Kentucky.  Check out the large caliber bullet holes. 
The mountains out there are large, close together, and gorgeous.  I took this photo of Cumberland from Kingdom Come State Park. You can see smoke, a few buildings in Cumberland were on fire.  The large clear spot in the back between the hills is a giant slag heap near the coal cleaning plant I worked briefly in.

This is just on the Virginia side of Black Mountain, and is what a coal seam looks like.  When you go further into a mine how deep you are has less to do with how much up or down you are going than it does how much taller the mountain above you gets. 
At one time the largest coal tipple in the country, this is typical of the fascinating ruins in Lynch and Benham.

Speaking of ruins, this old school was the company offices when I worked in the mines.  That was in 2009, and it was still being used when I visited in 2011.  It looks pretty rough for just 6 years of vacancy! 
The mountains are so tall each morning the fog just hangs in them.  This is a mine I worked at, filled in and grown over, all the buildings broken down and removed.  You can see a very obvious contour in the land though. Some other mines I worked in are still active.

An old continuous miner, something rarely seen above ground, and not so different than the ones we used.  The drum with the teeth on it rotates, scraping the coal which is scooped up that ramp in the front and fed out a conveyor on the back into shuttle cars which transport it to the conveyor belt which brings the coal out of the mine. 
Old strip mine maybe, or logging, or both.  Not as ugly as it can be sometimes.

Corn nuggets are harder to find back home than in East Kentucky.  These are the far superior cousin of the hush puppy!


  1. Corn nuggets any time over hush puppies. Real corn not cornmeal only.
    Those are some nice mountains.

    We travelled though the area this past spring. Beautiful mountains.

    I grew up an Anthracite country. In a way harder mining, in a way mining is just as tough and dangerous in Bituminous or Anthracite. I don't know of any anthracite that is machine mined. It is all in the size of the mine. The commonalities from the hard coal area to the soft coal area are amazing. The one I worked in for a bit was not much taller than that seam for quite a bit and then huge in other areas. Even the small seam though was about 100 yards wide.

    1. The smallest coal I worked was about 5 foot top. I met guys who worked 24 inch coal, which is crazy!

  2. Very interesting views, thanks. I have never even heard of corn nuggets—they look tasty. Way back in 1990 I drove through places such as Pikeville, Ky., and my eyes were opened to a part of the US that most people don't know or understand.

    1. This is quite a bit further south than Pikeville, but probably fairly similar. If you go back through there look for corn nuggets!!