A grave marker for Joe Nelson, born in 1883, seen in the foreground, contrasts with the mountaintop removal mining seen in the background at the Harless-Bradshaw Cemetery on Brier Branch near Ashford, W.Va. , in this AP photo.
I blogged a few weeks ago to bring to your attention an op-ed commentary in the Gazette’s new Mountain Memories Web site section about the problems large-scale strip mining is creating for coalfield cemeteries.
Now, Brian Farkas over at The Associated Press has done a take-out story on this growing concern. I’ve posted the entire story on the Gazette’s Mining the MountainsÂ page here, and we’re going to run it in the print edition as well.
The Harless-Bradshaw Cemetery, located in the stand of trees in the center of the photo, is ringed on all sides by mountaintop removal mining on Brier Branch near Ashford, W.Va. Saturday, March 7, 2009. As small family cemeteries and unmarked graves get in the way of mining, timbering and development interests, advocates are asking state lawmakers this year to enact regulations that would require better tracking of the graves and protect families who believed that their loved ones wouldn’t be disturbed. (AP Photo/Bob Bird)
Here’s how Farkas started his piece:
Â Walter Young can’t find his great-grandmother’s grave. The coal company that had it moved doesn’t know where the remains ended up.
“It always looked like a safe, good place nobody would bother,” the 63-year-old retiree said of the cemetery along Pigeon Creek where his relative, Martha Curry, was buried. “It was up on a hill.”
But that hill was in West Virginia’s southern coalfields, and over the years, it changed hands. The land around and under the cemetery passed from one coal company to another as mines grew up around it. Now, no one is sure where Young’s great-grandmother was ultimately laid to rest.
The loss is a problem that resonates across West Virginia as small family cemeteries and unmarked graves get in the way of mining, timbering and development interests. Advocates are asking state lawmakers this year to enact regulations that would require better tracking of the graves and protect families who believed that their loved ones wouldn’t be disturbed.
It’s worth a read.
[UPDATED — AP also produced a photo slide show with audio to go with the story]