Mountaintop Removal Essay

Submitted By Kacey-Hart
Words: 4602
Pages: 19

The Appalachian region is filled with hills and hollows –these steep landmasses followed by little narrow valleys. These are among the world’s most ancient inclines. They are filled with huge dense and diverse hardwood forest with several streams and wildlife winding across these ancient landmasses. Every time of year that you venture here you can see new glories and different treasures. In early to mid October you began to see all these glorious colors, reds, yellows, and oranges sprinkle over the mountaintops. In the hollows below you here the sounds and smell the smells of all these little homecoming festivals- and that’s what it feels like home. In the summer you can escape the heat and humidity by finding refuge amongst the forest shaded paths and cool down in the various streams intertwined throughout. The winter is by far to me the best time to go waterfalling; all these beautiful waterfalls hidden deep within the mountains once glorious and raging-now frozen in time. Springtime in the mountains smells like rebirth. All the animals that were hiding away for the winter begin to reemerge and bring with them their young. Wild flowers begin popping up everywhere in these endless seas of color: blues, yellows, purples, pinks and reds. Every time you go to the mountains there are new and wondrous treasures to find. The mountains give you solace, they offer you protection from the outside world, and they fill your life with all the beauty, sounds, and wildlife that the forest has to offer. This is the heart of Appalachia; this is its refuge and its greatest treasure. This is the atmosphere that grabs your heart and says I am home.
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