Poster Title

Hell in the Hollows: Community Response to Strip Mining in Eastern Kentucky from 1946-1981

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

History

Minor

Appalachian Studies

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

KY House District #

95

KY Senate District #

29

Department

Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies

Abstract

Strip mining emerged in eastern Kentucky shortly after the second world war and grew exponentially in the following decades. By the 1970s the practice had virtually outpaced the more traditional underground mining methods. Unlike those traditional underground methods, strip mining drastically alters the landscape. Even when properly reclaimed, legacy mines hardly resemble their neighboring mountains, and many eastern Kentuckians were horrified by the prospect of this destructive power. This led to the rise of a widespread grassroots opposition that sought to outlaw the practice, and by the mid-1960s and into the early 1970s this movement had penetrated virtually all levels of society. However, communal divides created by the economic and coercive influence of coal mines and coal interests ate at the opposition. These same communal divides helped birth an equally powerful grassroots support of stripping, which has allowed the practice to continue into the twenty-first century. Through archival research in the Carl D. Perkins collection, this project closely analyzes the evolving sentiments of eastern Kentuckians on the issue of strip mining and how their grassroots organizing in the 1960s and 1970s helped shape the industry to its modern form.

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Hell in the Hollows: Community Response to Strip Mining in Eastern Kentucky from 1946-1981

Strip mining emerged in eastern Kentucky shortly after the second world war and grew exponentially in the following decades. By the 1970s the practice had virtually outpaced the more traditional underground mining methods. Unlike those traditional underground methods, strip mining drastically alters the landscape. Even when properly reclaimed, legacy mines hardly resemble their neighboring mountains, and many eastern Kentuckians were horrified by the prospect of this destructive power. This led to the rise of a widespread grassroots opposition that sought to outlaw the practice, and by the mid-1960s and into the early 1970s this movement had penetrated virtually all levels of society. However, communal divides created by the economic and coercive influence of coal mines and coal interests ate at the opposition. These same communal divides helped birth an equally powerful grassroots support of stripping, which has allowed the practice to continue into the twenty-first century. Through archival research in the Carl D. Perkins collection, this project closely analyzes the evolving sentiments of eastern Kentuckians on the issue of strip mining and how their grassroots organizing in the 1960s and 1970s helped shape the industry to its modern form.