Filmmakers aims to honor Appalachian culture in ‘King Coal’ – by Miles Layton (Vinton Jackson Courier – February 13, 2024)

“King Coal” is one of the best movies I’ve seen depicting the people, places and culture of Appalachia. The film was shown as part of From the Hills and Hollers: Appalachian Stories Film Series on Feb. 8 at the Athena Cinema.

Initially, without knowing anything about “King Coal,” I was worried it was going to be a documentary that negatively portrays Appalachian people (poverty porn) before a sermon about coal’s impact on climate change and possibly includes a cameo from Al Gore. None of that could be further from the truth. It was an accurate presentation about the culture surrounding coal.

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Old Tyrone a mining utopia in wartime – by Robert L. Conley (Silver City Daily Press – February 5, 2024)

Known today for their vast resources of copper ore, the Little Burro Mountains of Grant County were first famous for their deposits of turquoise. For countless generations, until interrupted by non-Indigenous visitors, Native Americans operated shallow mines to extract the decorative blue-green stone.

The name of the first white man to discover turquoise here is unknown, but it is said that anyone who entered the area before the early 1870s was never seen alive again. The Apache were thought to blame. But by 1879, prospectors had staked out workable claims and, perhaps due to safety in numbers, were less prone to disappearing. The turquoise found here, just a dozen or so miles southwest of Silver City, was judged to be at least equal with the stones from the best mines in Persia — and good enough to gift President McKinley during his tour of New Mexico in 1901.

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‘We didn’t know we were poisoning ourselves’: the deadly legacy of the US uranium boom – by Tracy Tullis (The Guardian – November 20, 2023)

The Diné helped dig the raw materials to build the US’s nuclear arsenal, but were never told of the danger

Allen Tsosie was just 14 when he went to work in the uranium mines in the Lukachukai mountains near Cove, Arizona. Tsosie was one of thousands of Navajos who took jobs in the mines, starting in the 1940s. They worked without masks or ventilation to disperse the lethal radon gas, and they were never told the rocks they were handling – leetso in the Diné language, or yellow dirt – were deadly.

In Cove, “you see a lot of women and children,” said Kathleen Tsosie, Allen’s daughter, because hundreds of men who worked in the mines have died.

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The fighting priest of the Nevada mining camps – by Sean M. Wright (Detroit Catholic – August 14, 2023)

Many Irishmen arrived in California during the California Gold Rush. Among them was the brawny Patrick Manogue (pronounced “Manigan”) — “Paddy” to his friends, one of seven orphaned children.

Born in County Kilkenny in 1831, the young man left college and emigrated to the United States, landing in the gold fields in Moore’s Flat, California. Many disputes occurred among the prospectors in the mining camp, and Manogue was never one to turn his back on a donnybrook. Although only in his early 20s, he stood a muscular six feet, four inches tall. A fair man, Paddy Manogue was often asked to arbitrate these disputes.

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‘It’s not just Appalachia’s problem’: imagining a future without coal – by Adrian Horton (The Guardian – August 8, 2023)

The rhapsodic film King Coal blurs the lines of documentary and memorializes the coal culture that has shaped Appalachia

The film-maker Elaine McMillion Sheldon grew up roving around West Virginia. Like many children of Appalachia, her world was shaped by coal – her father worked for a mining company, and the family moved to seven coal fields in 12 years for his job. Her brother became a fourth-generation miner. “Everybody in my community worked in the coal mines,” she said. “If you were going to stay there and work, if you weren’t a doctor or a lawyer, that’s what you did.”

It wasn’t until she studied abroad as an undergraduate and asked people what they did for work that she realized the totalizing extent of coal. “Not everywhere has a king,” said Sheldon. “Not everywhere is completely dominated by this industry that controls everything from our rituals to the ways we live our life.”

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[Historical Profile] The Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and Colorado Territory – by Steven F. Mehls (Legends of America – 1984)

Legends of America The mountains of northeastern Colorado held vast treasures of silver and gold, and it was here that initial discoveries of those metals were made. While fur trappers used the area’s animal wealth, they did not know about or were not interested in the resources beneath the ground. Some mountain men like James …

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‘King Coal’ First Look: Visually Stunning Documentary Captures Mythic Power Of Appalachian Coal Country – by Matthew Carey ( – July 21, 2023)

EXCLUSIVE: Only about 40,000 people work in coal mining in the U.S., a modest number compared to other lines of work – 1.7 million people, for instance, are employed in the auto industry.

And yet coal and coal mining occupy an almost mythic place in the American imagination that belies the labor force statistics. In the documentary King Coal, Oscar-nominated filmmaker and Appalachia native Elaine McMillion Sheldon examines a part of the country deeply embedded, one might say, in the charred rock. As America increasingly turns away from coal as an energy source and towards renewables, the future of coal country remains uncertain.

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[Coal Mining History] Opinion: The Redneck Army Refuses to Stay Buried – by Cassady Rosenblum (New York Times – July 21, 2023)

The striking miners were 10,000 strong on the first day of September 1921 as they charged up the slope of Blair Mountain, propelled by a radical faith in the American dream. According to an Associated Press reporter who crouched behind a log and watched through field glasses, each time they pressed forward, a “veritable wall” of machine gun fire drove them back.

As the barrage peeled through the hollows, reminding some of the action they had just seen in the forests of France, the advancing miners soon heard a different sound: deeper, earthshaking explosions. From biplanes above, tear gas, explosive powder and metal bolts rained down. “My God,” screamed one miner fighting his way up Crooked Creek Gap. “They’re bombing us!”

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Inside The Molly Maguires, The Secret Society That Fought Bloody Battles For Workers’ Rights In The 1800s – by Genevieve Carlton (All Thats Interesting – July 19, 2020)

When mine owners cut wages in 1870s Pennsylvania, the Molly Maguires fought back. But with a private military on their side, the mine owners ultimately won what would become the first labor war in U.S. history.

In the 1870s, the Molly Maguires assassinated 24 mine foremen and supervisors and sent “coffin notices” to scabs during mining strikes. The secret society carried out assaults, arsons, and murders for years before a Pinkerton detective infiltrated the organization to bring them down from the inside.

The Molly Maguires fought for better working conditions in the deadly mines of Pennsylvania. But their violent methods caught up with them in a trial that sent twenty men to the gallows. Were the Molly Maguires vicious murderers or desperate workers fighting for their rights?

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33 Incredible Photos From The California Gold Rush, The Mining Craze That Captivated The World – by Kaleena Fraga (All That’s Interesting – January 26, 2023)

Lion Heart Film Works and Mill Creek Entertainment Video Production About California Gold Rush (Above)

The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in January 1848 sparked a mass migration to California — but not everyone was lucky enough to strike it rich.

In 1848, a carpenter building a sawmill near Coloma, California, caught a glimpse of something glittering along the banks of the American River. It was gold. And his discovery would launch the California gold rush, a frantic, hopeful, and transformative period in American history.

Seeking riches, hundreds of thousands of people — mostly men, but some women, too — flooded the territory. Borrowing money or using their life savings, they came from the East Coast, Europe, and even China. From roughly 1848 until 1855, they mined for gold across the state, eventually extracting some $2 billion worth of the precious metal.

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Review: Oliver Stone wants you to think about ‘Nuclear Now’ in new documentary – by Robert Abele (Los Angeles Times – April 27, 2023)

With a recent Gallup poll indicating that American support for nuclear power is the highest it’s been in nearly a decade, and the news getting worse about our imminent reckoning with climate change, there may be no time like the present for a documentary to make the case for a maligned energy source — one more associated with war and catastrophe than lighting our homes — as the best solution for a grim future.

The question then is whether a dyed-in-the-wool rabble-rouser like Oliver Stone is the most persuasive guy for this argument when he’s more likely these days to make news for being controversial (he’s been called a Putin apologist); and his most recent feature being 2016’s ignored “Snowden.”

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How to Eat Like a 19th Century Colorado Gold-Miner (Atlas Obscura – June 3, 2022)

A confluence of cross-cultural foodways fed a series of Colorado’s mining booms, and can still be tasted across the state today.

In 1857, newspapers from Texas to Maine resounded with breaking news from the Mountain West: the Rocky Mountains boasted “immense quantities…[of] gold, silver, and precious stones,” read the New York Herald. There was gold and silver to be won, and prospectors with dreams of striking it rich headed west.

Dozens of ”boom-towns” sprang forth almost overnight to accommodate the Gold Rush of 1858 and the Silver Boom of 1879. These mining towns developed their own distinct culture, with rules (often broken), customs (sometimes violent), and an aesthetic still visible in much of the state’s historic architecture.

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Mine Tales: Arizona’s minerals have proven vital in war and peace – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star/ – April 9, 2023)

Arizona has many historical mining properties that have produced gold, fluorspar, vanadium and uranium. These minerals have proven vital to many industries during times of war and peace.

The state also has iron ore deposits found in its central parts, including the banded-iron formation northwest of Prescott composed of quartz-hematite-magnetite rock formed from oxygenated ocean water 1.7 billion years ago.

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UM graduate student learns deeper history of Anaconda Smelter Stack – by Staff (NBC Montana – March 25, 2023)

MISSOULA, Mont. — A University of Montana Ph.D. student set out to study superfund cleanup in Anaconda, and her conversations with residents often turned to the smelter stack in town. Megan Moore interviewed residents and looked into how memories can offer more insight into mining legacies and cleanup. She found that in Anaconda, people often talked about the 585-foot smelter stack, which closed in 1980.

“I think there’s a tension between some community members about the stack, and that’s something that came through in our interviews and surveys. But what really was important was that people are very connected to it, often in different ways, but it’s something that should be paid attention to here in Anaconda and in other communities,” Moore told NBC Montana.

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What happened to the atomic test dummies? – by Glen Meek (Nevada Independent – March 17, 2023)

St. Patrick’s Day always rocks in Las Vegas, but not like it did 70 years ago when a 16-kiloton atom bomb detonated atop a tower at the Nevada Proving Grounds, 65 miles north of the city.

The March 17, 1953 above-ground nuclear test destroyed or damaged various test objects placed at differing distances from ground zero, including houses, cars and mannequins meant to simulate real people who might get caught in a nuclear blast. The explosion sent a shock wave through southern Nevada and left behind an atom-age mystery: What happened to the life-like mannequins used in the test?

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