“Rise Up! West Virginia” Photos

These are still photographs from the film – my personal journey through the coalfields of West Virginia.  Throughout the trip I kept a diary and drew my own conclusions from what I saw and heard.

 I hope that “Rise Up! West Virginia” encourages people to learn more and  understand that

 Mountaintop Removal and the processes used by the coal industry are detrimental

to the health of our people and to the economic future of our state and our country.  B.J. Gudmundsson


The Gaudineer Scenic Area  near Gaudineer Knob on Shaver’s Mountain in Pocahontas and Randolph Counties.  It contains irgin red spruce, yellow birch, beech, red maple, sugar maple and other hardwood species.


The 140 acre area in The Monongahela National Forest was designated as a Registered National Landmark in 1981 “for its exceptional value as an illustration of the Nation’s natural heritage and its contribution to a better understanding of man’s environment.”


This is one of my favorite places on earth!




The Greenbrier River in Pocahontas County, WV

Photo by Douglas B. Chadwick, Hillsboro


From here you can see Spice Run. Across the river looking north is The Calvin W. Price State Forest.


This was timber country during the boom.  The Spice Run Lumber Company had an operation here.  Only one house remains on the old town site.  Developers and real estate agents have begun to sell the land for vacation homes.  Congress recently protected this beautiful spot in the Monongahela National Forest as The Spice Run Wilderness Area.  Visit the WV Wilderness Coalition to learn more.


Kayford Mountain in Boone County, West Virginia


This mountaintop removal operation is located 35 miles from our Capital City of Charleston.  The mining operations are owned by subsidiaries of Arch Coal and Massey Energy – both absentee landowners.


If we were turn our camera around 360 degrees this is what we would see.  Thousands of acres of mountains and forest land blown to bits.  Excess waste (I hate that term – how can our earth’s soil and vegetation be called WASTE?) is shoved over the mountainside filling in the valleys and streambeds below.



Donna Branham and Larry Gibson - Mountain Keepers Music Festival on Kayford June 30, 2007


Friends and families gathered at Kayford Mountain to mourn for the land that has been lost and to celebrate the land that remains.


Donna Branham of Lenore, WV, is fighting to save her land and her home in Mingo County.  She came to ask for support.  Over the objections of many residents and environmental groups, the WVDEP granted a mountaintop removal permit behind her house the following month.






Country Singer and West Virginia native, Kathy Mattea, visits Kayford Mountain in July, 2007


The Sierra Club brought native daughter Kathy Mattea to West Virginia.  She flew over mile after mile of what used to be pristine mountains.  She cried as she viewed the  devastation.  More than 100 people came to talk to her and tell their stories.



Kathy Mattea Visits with Coal Field Residents


Atherine Spurlin of Quarrier, WV, sang her original songs to Kathy Mattea during her visit to Kayford Mountain.  Her song, “Why Oh Why Don’t You Answer” moved us all to tears as her voice floated out over the crowd. 


People like Mrs. Spurlin are examples of the rich heritage in these Appalachian Mountains.  This heritage is being threatened as mountaintop removal marches across our state forcing people to leave their homeland.  The question in my mind always is “Where do they go?”


This page is a work in progress.  Please check back often as it continues to grow!