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Kayford Mountain, WV

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“Mountaintop mining is practically raising the dead, while burying the living.” – Larry Gibson, resident of Kayford mountain

Kayford Mountain has been the home of Larry Gibson’s family since the 1700’s. More than three hundred of his relatives are buried in the family cemetery. Growing up on Kayford’s beautiful slopes, Larry treasures the best memories of his life from his early days on Kayford. He recalls “it wasn’t the fast life then, it was the good life.” When he was growing up on Kayford’s beautiful slopes, the mountains rose in every direction from his house.

In 1986, mountaintop removal operations began near his home. Over the next 20 years, according to Larry, “the slow motion destruction of Kayford Mountain has been continuous – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” Coal companies have flattened more than 12,000 acres of mountain landscape around Larry’s home. Where he once looked up at the peaks of Kayford from his family graveyard, he now looks 300 feet straight down at a blasted and devastated landscape.

Currently, the mine comes within 200 feet of his family cemetery, and the blasts continually shake the ground. Flying rocks from the explosions land near the gravestones and scar the ground. 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.”

Larry Gibson has been one of the most powerful voices opposing mountaintop removal for the last two decades and has been featured in dozens of documentaries, news stories and articles on mountaintop removal, including National Geographic and a 2006 story by Vanity Fair that called mountaintop removal, “the greatest act of physical destruction this country has ever wreaked upon itself.” He has formed a foundation called the Keepers of the Mountains Foundation to support his family’s ongoing fight to protect their homes, community and mountains.

Click here to see video footage of Kayford Mountain, WV and Larry Gibson’s ongoing fight to stop its destruction.

Photo and text contributed by Lucas Brown and provided courtesy of Appalachian Voices.

Help the People in this Community Stop the Destruction


HELP SPREAD THE WORD — Join thousands who are standing up against the destruction of Appalachian mountains and communities and who are helping to spread awareness of the other inconvenient truth about coal: mountaintop removal.
THEY’RE BLOWING UP OUR MOUNTAINS AND THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW! Ask your representative to support the Clean Water Protection Act – a bill that would curtail mountaintop removal and protect clean water for millions of Americans.
TELL YOUR ELECTRICITY PROVIDER — “NOT IN MY NAME!” — Click on this link, submit your zip code and choose “Take Action” where you can print out a letter – tailored to your own electricity provider – asking them not to do business with companies engaged in mountaintop removal strip mining.
heart DONATE WHERE IT’S NEEDED MOST — The most immediate way to help the people fighting to save their homes and mountains near Kayford is to support Keeper of the Mountains Foundation. Keeper of the Mountains Foundation was created to fund efforts to preserve and foster the values of mountain culture. Click here to donate to the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation.

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  1. Archie Carden Says:

    Massey Coal Co. raping the mountains AND the people who love those mountains.

  2. Maxx Oliver Says:

    Kayford Mountain has been the home of Larry Gibson’s family for hundreds of years and his family cemetery is here and also some of his best childhood memories took place here. Then in 1986 coal mining started here and has destroyed 12000 acres of land next to his home and cemetery. He used to look up at Kayford mountain but now he looks down into a giant hole. But Larry has been a big voice against mountain top removal. Before the video we watched in class I knew of mountain top removal but had never really seen it. I find these stories very depressing and I wish this would stop. I am now completely against thing such as “clean” coal.

  3. Scott Reilly Says:

    I remember visiting Kayford Mountain while at WVU in the late 90’s, and listening to Larry Gibson talk about what is happening to our world right in his back yard. I have traveled a lot, seen some more, but those images of MTR are the most devastating sights ever inflicted on our world. It makes me so sad and hopeless sometimes, but then I remind myself that there are people who are there living with this atrocity in their view. How there strength gives me strength!


    I live in Anderson County, in East TN. Actually, I live near the intersection of Anderson, Roane, and Morgan Counties. We are trying to persuade the state legislature to ban this mining, but the vote just continues to be postponed. They have time to vote to allow guns in bar/restaurants and state parks, though…

  5. Kathy Johnston Says:

    Please earnestly support S696, HR1310, & HR2169.
    Thank you.

  6. margaret garrison Says:

    Just read article in PEOPLE 10/20/08. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. So many are there with you in spirit. maggie

  7. Grant Campbell Says:

    My heart is with you. The practice is the most destructive process in the world today. I am doing what I can to stop it. I know it is difficult, but have heart and don’t give up.

  8. Linda Worthington Says:

    This desecration and destruction of your beloved mountains breaks my heart. I will add my voice, my dollars and my prayers to yours.

  9. norman baker Says:

    Congratulations… I hope it is enforced immediatly and the streams can be cleaned

  10. Becky Simmons Says:

    My voice is only one, but it is one of thousands who support Larry Gibson and his fight against the destruction of God’s creation.

  11. Molly Bates Says:

    I am an aspiring young writer from Appalachia. This story really inspires me to take a stand against this massive destruction of our home and our heritage.

  12. Toni Bolles Says:

    Shocking information; frustrating and gross. Until I watched this movie, I had no idea of the size of this issue. It saddens me that this continues. I will share the information and spread the word! I have driven through these mountains and enjoyed the beauty and splendor. What a disgrace that this continues!

  13. Jon Says:

    I never knew my electricity in new jersey was being subsidized by wrecking the lives of people in mountain areas. its a shame, and i want it to end. you cannot do that to someone who’s family has lived on Kayford Mountain for centuries. its just not right.

  14. Nancy Nunley Says:

    I’m just about done reading John Grisham’s latest novel GRAY MOUNTAIN. Wow! It opened my eyes to the horrors of strip mining & mountaintop removal (I never even heard of mountaintop removal. I wondered how much of what’s in the book was true so I “googled” strip mining. OMG! It’s all true, none of it is an exaggeration. Why didn’t most of the public know about this before? They will now as I predict GRAY MOUNTAIN will become a best seller. I hope the gov’t can be convinced to stop this devastation.

  15. Annette Yurkovich Brichford Says:

    I’m a McDowell County native who supports you in your work. I’m also proud to be a friend of Wendy Johnston. Keep fighting the good fight!

Appalachian Voices  •  Coal River Mountain Watch  •   Heartwood  •  Keeper of the MountainsKentuckians for the Commonwealth 

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition  •   Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowermentSierra Club Environmental Justice

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards  •   SouthWings  •  Stay Project  •   West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

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