A new addition to our coal collection is “Coal Miners of West Virginia” c.1900. Our collection includes images of coal miners, coal mines, coaling operations, coal miners’ housing and so forth. But the image in this blog is special. To us it seems that the photographic style of the photo was similar to that used by Lewis Hine. Note the ages of most of the miners. Boys! Because of the dangerous conditions associated with working in the mines including cave-ins and in particular “black lung” disease, most miners did not live past their 40s. Coal dust is evident on the noses of these miners. I find their eyes telling. Look at the stare of several of these men.
This photo, “Blaine, West Virginia (1953)“, should be easily recognizable as symbolic of West Virginia even without caption information. This image could have only be taken in West Virginia. Blaine is located in Mineral County near the Maryland border. If you have been following the images on DPI for any length of time I think that you will agree that this is a classic image of West Virginia.
The collection of coal miner photos in this blog were taken from a panoramic image of the Day Force of a coal mine in East Gulf, West Virginia (1952). Taken as a whole it is an impressive image. Unfortunately, it does not work well with either DPI’s website nor this blog page. Hence it is represented in these four separate images.
“Getting by with nothing and making do with less.” – Hillbilly Blood
Geography can serve to connect people or to keep them separated. The great civilizations developed along river valleys, and great trading nations took advantage of the seas.
Those peoples who did not have access to waterways developed their societies at a different pace. Mountain ranges and deserts tend to isolate peoples. The cultures of such people tend to become unique as compared to others who can make contact more easily.
This brings us to Appalachia. Appalachia extends from lower New York State to the deep South along the Appalachian Mountain range. Because of the overall isolation of the region people in Appalachia became self reliant and trusted in each other. Outsiders are viewed with initial suspicion.
“I live back in the woods, you see
A woman and the kids, and the dogs and me
I got a shotgun rifle and a 4-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive”
“A Country Boy Can Survive” – Hank Williams Jr.