Mining Images: Tennessee

The coal industry in Tennessee is fond of saying “We don’t do mountaintop removal here.” These images taken in October of 2012 present an entirely different picture.

Tennesseans want to protect our mountaintops from being removed. We know what a mountain is, and we know what to call it when you blast the top of it.

To my knowledge, this is the first large public database of surface mining images in Tennessee. Not all of these images are of mountaintop removal sites, some (like Buffalo Mountain for instance) are smaller strip mines, contour mines, or other people or places we saw along the way. Feel free to share them, attributed to SouthWings/Appalachian Voices unless otherwise noted. If you have questions about these images or would like to submit your own photos of surface mining and mountaintop removal in Tennessee, please email


A reminder of what we are fighting for.

Zeb Mountain

At nearly 2000 acres, Zeb Mountain is the largest surface mine in Tennessee. Exemplified by the first image here, Zeb sits right above several homes and small communities, directly impacting the water quality around these homes. Independent conductivity measurements showed conductivity in the stream below this site were nearly double the recommended limit by the EPA.

Double Mountain Mine

The Double Mountain Mine is in Claiborne County just south of the Kentucky border.

Log Mountain #2

This is another 680 acre mine in Claiborne County

Log Mountain

White Oak Mountain

Tackett Creek Mine on King Mountain

This is adjacent to a pending surface mining permit at Clear Fork. Learn more here.

Triple H Mine

Triple H was the last Tennessee-owned company doing high-elevation surface mining in Tennessee, and is apparently in the process of being bought out by a Chinese company.

Buffalo Mountain Wind farm, Surface Mine:

It was truly amazing to circle TVA’s wonderful 29 megawatt wind farm on Buffalo Mountain, but created a powerful dissonance when we saw the strip-mining that has taken place just below the turbines on the same mountain. In the background you could see mountains that are under threat of pending surface mining permits, as well as the Kingston coal plant. It was truly an all-encompassing experience of the realities of American energy.


The Human Thing

The worst consequences of mountaintop removal are the negative impacts on human health and well-being. Here are some courageous people who are fighting mountaintop removal in their communities and in our state.

Thanks again to Susan, the trusty ol’ Five Mike Tango, Paul Corbitt Brown, Shelby White, Vickie Terry, Ann League, Jim Grode, Hume Davenport and our partners at SouthWings, LEAF, the Alliance for Appalachia, and SOCM, for your incredible work to help Appalachia, and specifically for your help in this project. It would be impossible without you.