The National Memorial for the Mountains

Larry Gibson welcomes you to Kayford Mountain.

For the people who may hear this...go for a walk in the woods. Be real quiet. And listen. The wilderness will talk to you. And I guarantee you, come to see me and I'll put you on a mountain site and let you go for a walk and NOTHING will talk to you.

Larry Gibson

Welcome to Larry's home in Kayford Mountain, in the heart of the central Appalachians. His ancestors settled here more than 230 years ago. Before there was ever a coal company.

While Larry Gibson grew up on Kayford's beautiful slopes, the mountains rose upward in every direction from his home. He treasures some of the best memories of his life from those days. He recalls that "it wasn't the fast life then, it was the good life."

More than three hundred of Larry's relatives, including his father and grandfather (both coal miners) are laid to rest in the family cemetery, which sits atop the once mighty mountain.

Then, in 1986, mountaintop removal started. Over the next 20 years, "the slow motion destruction of Kayford Mountain has been continuous - 24 hours a day, seven days a week." Arch Coal Inc. and Massey Energy have flattened the mountains surrounding Larry's house into a 12,000 acre "pancake."

Larry's house now sits on a high terrace looking downward into the modern moonscape(interactive panorama of Kayford's "reclaimed area" requires high speed) that once rose into some of the most ancient and bio-diverse mountains on the planet.

The mine site comes to within 200 feet of the family cemetery, and the blasts shake the hallowed ground. In 2003, just adjacent to his property, the coal companies induced the largest non-nuclear explosion since World War II on Kayford Mountain. Boulders the size of mini-vans were blasted on to Larry's property.

As one visitor noted, "gone is the peace and stillness that the old cemetery once harbored. For Gibson and other family members, mountaintop mining is practically raising the dead, while burying the living."

Mountaintop removal has destroyed nearly 1 million acres of the most beautiful mountains in the world.
But these mountains had a name. In every hollow - a community - long before the coal companies occupied these parts. In every home - faces and families.

Now, for the first time in history, thanks to the emerging blogosphere and new technology involving GoogleEarth and 3D-mapping we have been able to document and properly memorialize every Appalachian mountain that has been destroyed by mountaintop removal. Currently, its over 460 mountains.

The EPA expects mountaintop removal to DOUBLE over the next 10 years.
That's why it's urgent you help us spread the word.

Kayford Mountain is one of just 460+ mountains that now have been destroyed which are now documented and properly remembered at the first ever National Memorial for the Mountains on, which has just raised the standard for technology and the blogosphere.

Please go to and SIGN UP to join our army of Americans who oppose mountaintop removal coal-mining.

For so long, mountaintop removal coal-mining has raped Appalachia by staying the best kept secret in America.

But, don’t just take my word for it…

See the Introductory Video

View the National Memorial for the Mountains in Google Earth. This view is from the West Coast

Just double-click on any mountain and you will be taken to its marker, shown as a half-mast American flag.

Each flag is a link to the memorial on with photos, stories, interviews and links to more information on that particular mountain.

Tour a mountaintop removal site - You can take a tour of a high-resolution mine site and learn more about the mining process by clicking once on the folder labeled "Mountaintop Removal Site Tour" and hitting the play button.

See mountaintop removal in relation to a city near you - In the National Memorial for the Mountains, you can view the size of a single mine site superimposed on 36 U.S. cities. To see what impact this one mine site would have on your city, open the folder in "Temporary Places" called "Mine Site Overlays" and double click on any of the cities listed.

Don't think we could have done this without Willie Nelson being involved somehow.

Willie Nelson has donated the cover of Bob Dylan's "Blowin in the Wind" for this introductory video to MTR, which includes interviews with Woody Harrelson and Appalachian Voices Dircetor Mary Anne Hitt, among others.


Area permitted for mountaintop removal cerca 2005

What is going to happen to this land?

<u>Basics</u&gt [More at the Mountaintop Removal resource page]

What is mountaintop removal?








These streams serve as headwaters to some of the most important rivers in the world.

And mountaintop removal is rapidly destroying the area of highest biodiversity in the United States.

Unfortunately, there is little information on the cumulative impacts of mountaintop removal because the federal agencies that are charged with regulating coal mining have refused to track the overall extent and impacts of mountaintop removal. The one attempt at a comprehensive analysis of MTR by government agencies was presented in a multi-agency Environmental Impact Statement that was completed in 2003. This effort was initiated in the late 90s, but the focus of the EIS was revised after the White House changed hands in 2001. According to the Charleston Gazette:

"When it formally kicked off the project in February 1999, the EPA said the goal was "to consider developing agency policies ... to minimize, to the maximum extent practicable the adverse environmental effects" of mountaintop removal. By October 2001, then-Deputy Interior Secretary Steven J. Griles, a former mining industry lobbyist, had ordered the project refocused toward "centralizing and streamlining coal mine permitting."

<u>So HOW can we let them keep doing this to us?!!?</u&gt

They tell us it will bring jobs.

WV Employment

They tell us that we "need the flat land" for "economic development" and so we can "get big industry in here.

Kayford Mountain's economy is just ZOOMING along 10 years after reclamation...

Maria Gunnoe, talking about reclamation.

Looking across this [22 year old "reclaimed"] mine site you don't see anything like what was here 30 years ago. It was very lush with trees and berries and mushrooms and herbs and natural cures from our mountains that we depended on as a culture.

For too long, we have been ignored, exploited for cheap energy and labor, and brushed aside, because we couldn't defend ourselves against the coal companies rape of our land, people, and heritage.

Now we are doing standing up. And it is giving us hope!!!

And we are asking you to stand with us!

Do you love mountains?! Please go to and SIGN UP to join our army of Americans who oppose mountaintop removal coal-mining.

Already, 5 major religious denominations have passed resolutions opposing mountaintop removal.

Please Share your prayers with us!

Call me a "holler girl", call me a hillbilly, call me what you will. But I'm a person that pays taxes, that votes, that does all the right things...and its not working for me or for anyone else here because ultimately coal is king. - Maria Gunnoe

Please go to and SIGN UP to join our army of Americans who oppose mountaintop removal coal-mining.

Representatives Frank Pallone and Christopher Shays introduced a bill called the that reestablishes the original intent of the Clean Water Act: to protect our waterways, not give industry permission to pollute and bury them. The bill, which as of September, 2006, has 71 co-sponsors (and counting!...) is:

The Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2719)

For more information, please contact Appalachian Voices at 828-262-1500.

Thanks to the following groups who helped make this immense project possible:
Appalachian Voices
Boone, North Carolina

Coal River Mountain Watch
Whitesville, West Virginia

Keeper of the Mountains Foundation
Dawes, West Virginia

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
London, Kentucky

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Huntington, West Virginia

Save Our Cumberland Mountains
Lake City, Tennessee

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards
Big Stone Gap, Virginia

(Cross-posted at the Appalachian Voices blog)


oh yeah. thats me.

Thanks BlueNC friends for spreading the word on

Sign up, and share it with a buddy that also loves mountains.

This is the fight of our lives, and its an honor to be able to share this with you. Also, thats yours truly with Clean Water Protection Act co-sponsor Jim Cooper (TN-5)(D) in the top "inspiring picture" series there at the end.



Would yall recommend this at MyDD as well?

much appreciated!

and DKos!

Thanks yall! Sorry to be so pathetic, but I really want this thing to get some attention. It is really really cool!

Coal-powered power plants are only one part of the problem.

This is a powerful tour de force. I grew up in a strip mining county, in a strip mining town, and in a strip mining family. Moutaintop removal does as much damage as a dozen strip mines and employs a lot less workers.

Great job.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Thank you Robert

I've heard MTR called "strip-mining on steroids", and I think thats pretty accurate.

What area are you from? I know in WV its been shown that less than 30% of people support MTR. Why do you think that we are missing political action on this issue?

Grew up in Central PA

From your map, and my own experience, there is no MTR in that area. I would guess people there are "in favor" of it because they don't know anything about it, because it doesn't affect them, and because they equate it with jobs.

The hill that I grew up hunting was finally strip mined a few years ago when I was still going back each year for buck season. The locals, who never cared before, were suddenly very upset that "Black Elk" had been strip-mined.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I think its kept secret for a good reason

I think that people don't know about it, or just think it could never happen to them. Thats how its felt in North Carolina. When people learn about it (unless they are a Republican elected to congress) they are UNIVERSALLY pissed.

Recommended JWRandolph

this is both very interesting and troubling. Recommended at both MyDD and Kos, also linked my "Tour", thought people could benefit from seeing what good stewardship looks like!

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

muched obliged

I rec'd you as well over at Kos. Any word on the Chimney Rock sale?

Thank you!

Re: Chimney Rock Sale,

The family is asking $55m for this property. So far the government has offered $20m, pretty bad lowball offer. Other groups are fundraising to try and get the difference, or at least enough that the family would accept.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.


thanks! Your raising awareness of the awesomeness of Chimney Rock might help bring a few million to the project! :)

You made me cry this morning

I'm at home, wishing away the after-effects of sinus mess that attacked out of nowhere this weekend. I'm glad ... glad you posted this, glad I've read it, glad I'm home. I'd hate to be at work right now and had people walk in my office in mid-sniffle. You really touched my heart, jw. I'll just copy what I wrote at MyDD here:

I grew up in Rutherford Co., NC and spent many a vacation and weekend in Western NC mountains. One of the most significant days in my life was walking through an old growth bottom area full of spearmint and blackberry undergrowth. We were a bunch of rowdy teenagers from summer camp at Ben Lippen who had been yuking it up on a hike to go sleep in the woods, but when we crossed a short fallen-log bridge and entered a small but wonderfully magic stand of trees every one of us fell totally silent ... still walking ... mouths open ... but no talking. Something ... some little tiny thing inside all of us changed that day and none of us ever looked at the natural world the same again. We had all fallen in love with God's earth. This memory is one I hold so very dear. Seeing these mountains torn down and the raincreek valleys filled in just breaks my heart.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."