Saturday, April 17, 2010

plumes of dust

Every time I go over Pine Mountain towards Harlan County (as I did this past Friday April 16) there's a point, just over the ridge of the mountain when it feels like the bottom has fallen out of the world, and there is a sick feeling in my stomach.

The cause that sense of impending doom is the huge strip mine cutting into the side of the mountains on the border between Kentucky and Virginia show in the photos above. Friday, the view was less obscured by the clouds of dust in the air. Dry conditions and stiff winds were filling the air with dust with every passage of the drag lines across the mine surface.

One the Google map below, you can see the great gray scar on the landscape that the mine makes. The photos I took (above) were taken when my car was at a point on US 119 just above the "SAT" and "TER" buttons (where you see the 119)in the upper right corner of the map. I was looking southward.

As you can see on the map, this enormous strip mine that runs for nearly two miles, is within the boundaries of the Jefferson National Forest, and there is an even larger mine to the south west.

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