Front Porch Blog

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 take my word for it.

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?
Basics [More at the Mountaintop Removal resource page]








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.”

So HOW can we let them keep doing this to us?!!?

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…image

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!

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 us at 828-262-1500 or visit the the Mountaintop Removal Resource Page

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




AV Mountain border tan1

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