Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
My first morning in West Virginia, just south of Morgantown, the proprietor of a small store on the back road I was walking along told me about Ellery. She gave me direction to his house that was on the side of a mountain without a road to it; just an old path. Ellery was famous she said. Ellery had just received a letter from President Nixon congratulating him for living to be 100 years old. Ellery was all of 101 and an astonishing person. A former University professor, an accomplished writer and musician, he lived with his dog in a 200 year old house made of split hickory logs that his great grandfather built. He lived with admirable frugality. I spent two days and nights with him. We walked a lot, both in the woods and along old roads, and we sat on his front porch in the spring sun. We talked constantly. He had a lot to say so I did a fair amount of listening. In the evenings he read me his poetry and went to bed as shortly after the sun set. He was a lovely, rare human being.
I talked to coal miners in the bars and club around Logan, WVA, and finally got an invitation to visit a coal mine. This picture and the ones following were all taken at the Chapin Company mine in Man, WVA, over several days. The miners I met there were hilarious, gracious and hard working. Unlike "gallery" mines in which miners can stand up to work, the Chapin mines were low-ceilinged "drift" mines worked with specialized equipement like the "buggy" which carried the miners in to the mine "face" and brought the coal out. I rode the 'buggy' into one of the mines and when we came back out I was really, really happy to see the light of day again.
The coal buggy is used to extract the coal from the mine "shaft". These mines are called drift mines and are not really shafts but seams of coals four or five feet thick that go back into through the mountains and the coal is removed horizontally. When the coal has been removed the support cribs are knocked down and the mountain settles.