However on any given day you can travel to the top of one of these mountains and find what looks like a graveyard. The mountaintop that once provided lush forests, plant, and animal life but now is reduced to rubble. Acres and acres of rock and debris; no more waterfalls, no more wildflowers, no more beautiful hardwoods- just rubble to remind you of what once was here but is no more. This is what is left after the coal is removed from the mountaintop. The mountaintop itself is pushed of the side and carried down into the valleys and streams below. The mountain has been blown up layer by layer to remove the coal from below in what seems to be an act of massive vandalism. As of 2009, Kentucky has lost 574,000 acres of forests and 293 mountains. In total the coal region of Appalachia has lost 1,160,000 acres of forests and 501 mountains (Wasson, 2009).
Mountaintop removal does not only destroy the top of the mountain but it covers up waterways and destroys the valleys below. Once the mountaintops are remove there is no forest or waterways to protect the valleys instead debris is carried down below and when it begins to rain new routes are made out through the valley because there are no streams anymore to carry the rain water. The mining companies like to label this as an act of God- when instead its devastation brought on by industry (Kennedy Jr., 2011).
It was after the Civil War that the outside world began to enter Appalachia. Railroads began to push through all the areas that were once too isolated for people to venture into. As the railroads came in so too did industry. They wanted to use Appalachia for all the dense hardwoods. As they began stripping the forests they soon found coal deposits as well. Between the 1880s and 1920s businessmen began using many tactics to procure the land in Appalachia. They would lie, cheat, and steal. They went so far as to burn down courthouses so that they would destroy records proving private ownership. Once the forests were clear-cut any remaining occupants were forced to leave because of the horrific flooding that ensued. After the forests had disappeared business owners turned to coal deposits (Shapiro, 2010).
Coal mining boomed through the 1920s. The little hollows were built up as company towns. Places where you lived and breathed coal mine. All