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Erin Ann Thomas

West Virginia

The New River

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins The New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world and one of the few, other than the Nile, that moves from south to north on the globe. It curves through mountains covered with thick greenery that slants up on either side, and in the spring and summer months professional river guides steer groups of four to twelve tourists straddling bright colored inner tubes through the rapids. After I …

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Mountain Top Removal: The Beginning

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins As the twentieth century progressed, the idea of the interconnectedness of man and nature gained ground, pricking the nation’s environmental conscience. A poem printed in the United Mine Workers’ Journal in 1950 demonstrates that the union was beginning to anticipate the effect that this would have on the industry: “We should practice conservation / We know we should not waste / the national resources of the nation / yet the greatest …

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Mining Inevitably Disturbs Land

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins When I visited Blair, one of the remaining residents, Melvin Cook, chatted with his cousin Ralph in his driveway, where their pickup trucks were parked side by side, content like the men to spend the afternoon under the tin overhang. They were both tall—6’2” to 6’3”—and gray-haired but athletic looking. Ralph wore shorts to his knees, socks reaching midshin, and a tucked-in polo shirt. His moustache sat neatly trimmed over his upper …

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