Public Television Runs Documentary on Appalachian Coal Mining

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Power And Place

The final episode of this series about the natural and human history of Appalachia sparks both heartbreak and hope for the region’s ransacked mountain ecosystem is now running on public television.

Early 20th-century mineral barons ruled Appalachia with an iron fist. Company spies tracked miners’ every move. If they found a man’s union card, he would be fired, even killed.

Inspired by a brave little old lady who talked like a preacher and cursed like a sailor, mineworkers organized and demanded better treatment. The dams of the Tennessee Valley Authority drowned ancestral homesteads, but the project eliminated abject poverty for thousands.


An invasive fungus has wiped out the majestic American chestnut tree, but its roots refuse to die.

Strip mining has torn the tops off mountains, but a new wave of activists, writers, musicians, scientists and nature-lovers is expanding the miners’ ideas of health and fairness to include the forests, the rivers and the mountains themselves. Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek narrates.

© 2011, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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