Thursday, August 31st, 2006
These entries are based on research or interviews conducted by Appalachian Voices staff and volunteers- we’d love for you to add another story or eulogy, and let us know if you’d like to request a change.
Kayford Mountain and its surrounding areas have 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 there, and when he grew up on Kayford’s beautiful slopes, the mountains rose in every direction from his house. 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.”
In 1986, the 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., Horizon Natural Resources and Massey Energy have flattened the mountains surrounding Larry’s house into a 12,000 acre “pancake.” The mine comes to within 200 feet of the family cemetery, and the blasts make the ground shake. Stray 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.”