Blue Virginia highlights a study putting coal employment at just two percent in the Central Appalachian region. Is that right? Carl lives in Wise County and doesn't agree.
I agree with Carl's two eyes. Whatever employment there is in many parts of far Southwest Virginia is due to coal. If there weren't any mining, it would be plenty of empty acres there. Especially on the winding two-lane roads.
I lived for seven years in Bluefield, W.Va., a city that erupted from nothing in the 1880s due to coal. The Millionaires lived just north of there in Bramwell. The lawyers, doctors and other professionals that are there are due to coal mining.
Population in the coal fields has dropped since the 1950s as ways to mine have changed, but it's still a big part of life. There's not much flat land to build big plants to employ people - unless a mountain is cut down and valley filled in.
And if you plowed through the mountains to build better roads, you might add more diversity to the economy. Until then, coal is it. Kill coal and you kill a big region.