Mountaintop removal mining is exactly as destructive as it sounds. In West Virginia coal country, entire mountaintops have been stripped into barren wastelands for the sake of coal. But every once in a while, you’ll see a lonely island of green — a centuries-old cemetery that just barely continues to exist.
In this video from the BBC, Dustin White and Danny Cook visit the graves of their ancestors atop of what is now a coal mine. Coal companies are legally required to provide access for family members, but visitors have to make arrangements days in advance, wait for an escort, and go through hazard training just to set foot in the cemetery. “I kind of feel it’s just part of their tactics. They want to discourage us to come visiting these cemeteries,” says White, “And they do a pretty good job.”
Unfortunately, you might say White and Cook are the lucky ones. These cemeteries in West Virginia are passed down from generation to generation in the family, but they’re poorly documented in official records. Too often, they’re destroyed before living relatives are even alerted. When it comes to coal mining, even the dead cannot rest in peace. [BBC]