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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Appalachia's Life Blood

 ~ coal trains ~
If you're reading this on a computer that's operated by electricity, in a room that has an electric light bulb, please, thank a coal miner. 

It always amuses me when folks start in on coal miners and the mining industry. Generally, those whiny folks are using computers fired by electricity, living in houses fired by electricity, working in offices fired by electricity, driving cars manufactured by electricity...all of which are because of coal, well, you get the idea. 

Like all the gasoline stations that "proudly" state, "Ten percent ethanol added". 

Big Whoop.

What that translates into is more profits for the petroleum companies CEO's, Board members and shareholders and worse gasoline mileage for us. All ethanol does is s.t.r.e.t.c.h the gasoline, making it less mileage efficient so we get fewer miles per gallon of gas.

Okay, I'm not so good with the scientific jargon but I'm pretty good at counting and what I count best is money. We're spending more money and receiving less for it. 

So what's new?

If you know anything about Appalachia, you know we're coal country. A good portion of the Appalachian states have coal mines and coal miners. On Spike Television, from the same people who brought us Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers comes COAL. It was filmed about fifty miles from us, over the VA/WV state line, in the next county, McDowell, and we've been watching. I have a healthy respect for anyone who earns their money the old fashioned way, by sheer physical labor but especially coal miners. 

After all, I am a coal miner's daughter. Daddy's people came to the USA in the mid 1600's from the coal mines of the old country. I well remember Granddaddy coming home, black save the whites of his eyes and stripping off the layers of his coal dusted work clothes. Later, Uncle Clarence came home the same way and then Daddy. At some point, Daddy decided the coal miner's life wasn't the life for either he nor his family and he packed us up and moved us to Richmond. 

Coal is the lifeblood of Appalachia; at least, our part of Appalachia. It's one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, taking place in one of the darkest places in the world - middle earth. There is nothing, nothing, like the inside of a coal mine. This I know from listening to my menfolk, and others, talk of their job. It was always considered bad luck for a woman to enter a mine and, to this day, out of respect, I've never been inside of a mine. I have family members sealed in mines because there was an explosion and the mines caved in, leaving no way to get the miners out so they buried them.

Did you know canaries were the early warning system for methane or carbon monoxide gas? Miners carried canaries into the mines with them and if the bird died, the men knew to head for sunlight and the surface... fast! The last canary carried into an English mine just died from old age in the 1980's; he was one of the blessed ones.

COAL shows miners at their best and at their worst working for Cobalt Coal Company, a company traded in both the USA, CCCXF.PK, and in Canada, CBT-V. The show premiered in Premier, WV where some friends live and has been the biggest thing to happen to that community since the train laid tracks.

So, to repeat myself...if you've got mod cons like electricity, automobiles, trucks, public transportation; heck, virtually every part of our lives are because of COAL, thank a coal miner. It's a hard, tough, dirty job and I thank God for coal miners. Bless 'em, Lord, and please keep them safe. 

Watch the show and let me know what you think.

Blessings ~ God's resources ~ coal miners ~ trains ~ coal ~

Soli Deo Gloria,


  1. Very interesting. I worked my 36 years for an electric utility company that uses coal at their generating stations serving northern Minnesota. We get our coal from North Dakota, and they are open pit mining, so very different mining from your area. I so much appreciate all our hard working labor workers that work so hard to make the conveniences we all enjoy. Very interesting about the canaries. I had not heard that before. THank you. Have a blessed weekend, jo in MN

  2. I, too, am a coal miners daughter,grand daughter and great grand daughter.- My brother works in a coal mines also here in WV.--
    I really enjoyed your post. I will be watching that show.

  3. I have always had a soft spot for our coal miners,their job is so dangerous,not to mention tough,yes I proudly say Thank You,and god bless to each and everyone of you! Blessings jane

  4. We watched the show. I have always had a respect for those that go underground and have more now that I have seen it. I'm claustrophobic, so when they duck their heads and the mantrip goes through that portal, I just about lose it.

  5. Sing it sister!
    We are already set this up to record! J has a done a lot of studying in this area and is very interested in this as am I!
    Thanks for giving everyone a heads up :)
    xo, misha

  6. We live a few miles from 2 coal dependent electric plants, and in the middle of corn country and ethanol arguments. It amazes me to see the neverending lines of RR cars loaded to the hilt with coal for the electric plants. I can't imagine the kind of work that it takes to get that here, but God has given us a lot of the stuff. I don't think we can ever grow enough corn to make a difference fuel wise, but our president is determined to make coal miners obsolete and corn farmers indispensable! Fortunately, he won't be here that long :D
    You have an interesting history Sandra.

  7. A great post! I have a huge respect for coal miners, and others who do the 'dirty' work for the rest of us to enjoy our lives.

  8. Living in W. Kentucky, I can certainly appreciate this post.

    Well done!

  9. Living in England, where we have a long tradition of coal mining, I can identify with your post today. When I was a small child, we heated our house with an open fire burning coal or the cheaper version, coke. No one in my family was a coal miner, due mainly, I suppose, to the fact that most of our coal comes from the northern part of England and we live in the south.
    We take so much for granted these days that it is good to be reminded of where we come from and how much we depend on the hard physical labour of the hardy souls who work down those mines.
    Great post.

  10. Sandra I never realized that you were a coal miner's my mother! Her family came from Pottsville, PA, where my grandfather and several of her brothers mined. I still remember our trip to see their original farm, which had the modern convenience of an outhouse in the back..beautifuol country many years ago!
    Continuing to send prayers and hugs!
    Nancy and the critters

  11. I learn so much from you Sandra. Coal mining has always seemed like a special job few can do, and I am claustrophobic so cannot imagine without extreme discomfort, the job of mining deep into the earth. I am thankful there are people who will do this work but also saddened by the danger and loss of life this livelihood extracts.

    For many years my father-in-law would add coal to the fire in the fireplace to heat his home overnight, and during the early years of our marriage he would give my husband and I some coal to help tide our wood-stove heat overnight and ease our fuel bills.

    I do wonder at how this president and our major news media( propaganda) is bent on erasing our history and common sense to fit their agenda to the detriment of our country,especially concerning fuel, power, crops, etc.~ but that is a topic for another time.

    Great post and a thank-you to your family and the coal miners past & present!

  12. Growing corn (a food crop) to produce ethanol really is an obscenity in a world starving for nutrition. Coal mining has always seemed defining work - just like working on oil rigs, being a full time farmer, raising livestock - the backbone of a society is the worker. Not going political on this - we know the truth and the truth will set us free - whether in this life (and time) or the next.

  13. I really enjoyed this post!One of my best friends that I have known since 12 yrs. old was from PA and her father was a coal miner, also. They moved to our town in NYS and her father died of black lung eventually. They are unsung heros for sure!♥

  14. My grandfather worked in a mine out west for awhile (they lived in Texas), just long enough to earn money to buy a farm. The family had recently immigrated from Austria, and Mother was small at the time and didn't remember much, only that he wasn't home much. Thanks for the story, I agree with you! Coal miners have kept this country going for a long time and should receive more respect!!

  15. My paternal Grandmother's family are all coal miners. They are Ratliff's from Grundy.

  16. Really informative post Sandra thank you for this. I do thank the Lord for our Coal Miners. They work so hard and under such dangerous conditons. I remember when those miners got stuck underground and they showed the rescue of them live on T.V. I prayed for them for days. May God bless them and their families. Blessings my friend.


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