We’ve got to save [Coal River mountain.] It's a symbol. And not only a symbol, it’s the only thing left where 20 years from now, someone here might be able to survive on their own with fresh water and wildlife. It’s the only mountain left the wildlife can live on. It’s the last mountain left intact that we can literally use to sustain our life here and to literally have something for our kids to be able to stay here. I think a lot of the residents here see that mountain as sort of like an Alamo. It’s the last stand. - Judy Bonds, Rock Creek.
Coal River Mountain sits nestled in the Coal River Valley between the Clear and Marsh Forks of the Big Coal River, and spans an area of approximately 62 square miles. The mountain is blanketed with what is known as a mixed mesophytic hardwood forest
, and is home to a rich biodiversity of both flora and fauna
, as well as to the residents living in the many valleys around the mountain.
Listen to Joe Aliff of Rock Creek tell about how "that mountain is a drugstore."
Residents of Horse Creek, Dry Creek, Rock Creek, Sycamore Hollow and the towns surrounding the mountain rely on the mountain for non-timber forest products, hunting, and recreation. Their families have been able to survive in these valleys for hundreds of years both due to coal mining jobs and because they always had the mountain to sustain them
. Now, the only reason many of them remain is because of their connection to the mountain. Although Coal River mountain has been mined both underground and stripped in areas, the community has still had access to the mountain. That connection, and the rich histories many of the residents carry with them, is now being threatened with permanent obliteration.
Photo by Sarah Haltom, Interview by Sam McCreery.
Vernon Haltom is a resident of Peachtree, a small community near the base of Coal River Mountain. Listen to his favorite memories of the area and his perspective on the importance of preserving local natural resources: "I would want a stranger to the area to know that there are a lot of places that are worth preserving...it is all being threatened. The resources are just so phenomenal and so valuable."
Move the mouse pointer over the images below for captions that appear below the collage. Click the images to learn about previous mining, wind resources, timbering and forest resources, slurry impoundments, and community use of the mountain.
For more information on sources used in this theme, please see the Notes on Sources