Monday, November 28, 2005

The Surprise of an Active Coal Mine

Following an active railroad down a valley, we were searching again for both active and inactive mines. It was clear that this railine used to branch off and serve other mines and towns, but the remants are thin- sometimes only the name of the town indicates its former economic importance. This mine is actually the only active one on the whole railroad branch, though the track continues after it, and actually used to split off in two directions. We followed the still extant track as it gradually sank into the brush, and even where the rails and ties were taken up, the embankment it was on served to indicate its former presence. An odd scene were the houses on the other side of the non-existant tracks that now could drive over the grassy in embankment, and in many cases use the railroads remaining ballast as a handy parking area. Past the last visible remains of a railroad, I belive we did find some areas that at least indicated the former presence of mines.
This is actually heading away from the mine, with this train in the process of loading, going about .5 mph.
Coming around a curve in the road, this huge loader looms out suddenly and starkly. With the poor lighting, its hard to see the coal falling into a car, but it's happening.
A silo peeks out from the mountainside, beyond it are looming piles of coal and machinery. This seemed like a large mine, though it was astonishly compacted into this small area for transload into railcars.

This whole region has a strange mood about it, something I think is a combination of its immense beauty, absurb, meanacing, and haphazard destruction and abandonment, and its nearly all-encompassing poverty.


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