Inside Appalachia – First Impressions

Jul 08, 2023 4.8M Views 10.3K Comments

Deep in the mountains of West Virginia, is a world most of us know nothing about. It’s a place that’s had a huge part in building the country off of the backs of coal miners. Economic decline has hit the region hard, but what remains is a sliver of hope, pride, and some of the most authentic and friendly people in the country.

Rebel Smokehouse
Outlaw Bar and Grill
Riders Paradise

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

the way I’m going to take you is through
the mountains and that’s where it’s deep
deep Appalachian deep deep Appalachia
this was like the Hub of the community
when they started shutting the coal
mines down it just
what was up here you’re doing your own
thing out here no Sheriff down here no
problem that’s right this is really hard
to wrap my head around because we are in
the middle of nowhere and then people
have money for this side oh yeah you can
make six figures easy easy at 18 years
old this is your holler holler people if
a husband got killed in the mine she had
seven days to remarry stay cooked
perfect the coal industry died here and
then everyone just left quickly these
electric cars are getting charged Off
the Grid and that’s mostly cold I guess
West Virginia people are just so used to
having a negative shadow cast on us and
it’s not that way at all
good morning guys here in Bluefield West
Virginia deep in the heart of Appalachia
and today we’re meeting up with a local
named Jimmy and Jimmy said
he can get us out to the surrounding
area here some of the former wealthy
towns with
old money and some towns that have
decayed to only a few people living
there and bring us into coal country
because that is what built this part of
Appalachia so let’s do this get in with
Jimmy get a better understanding of what
life is like here
this whole entire Block’s coming down
for economic development they’re going
to tear it down I guess rebuild new
buildings here there’s so much asbestos
and they’re ready to come down these
things are old old they’re beautiful
though like from the front side that
one’s beautiful so this was just
thriving what 30 40 years ago there were
people everywhere it was one of the
biggest hubs in Coal country to come
through Bluefield because you’re finally
getting kind of out of the mountains and
it’s easier to get cold out than this if
you look down that way you can see cold
moving still yet
oh cool moving on the railway okay so
it’s still happening you still get some
coal um not like it was though I mean
even back in the day the horse and buggy
it was just it’s a coal mining town was
just full of people in life some people
are hanging on huh yeah furniture shop
okay so Jimmy fair to say this is the
heart of Appalachia uh where we’re at
yeah this area Avalanche is a big
mountain chain it’s one of the old exact
worlds and it’s here’s the thing it’s
super hard to Define because technically
you can say it’s from Georgia to Canada
right up to Quebec like technically I
grew up in Appalachia in Vermont right
but I don’t look at myself as
Appalachians right but when you look at
your identify as Appalachian that would
be these states right West Virginia
Kentucky Tennessee right North Carolina
Eastern Kentucky of Southern West
parts of Tennessee but I’ll show you in
a little bit when we get up here where
the West Virginia Virginia line is and
you can see the difference if you want
to film some of this this is actual cold
coming through when we get on down here
you’ll see how many railroad tracks were
side by side they’ve ripped out a bunch
of them because we don’t have the coal
we used to
but I remember coming over here you
could count like 20 30 24 sets of rails
all the way across my father was a coal
miner he uh for years until he just
couldn’t do it anymore his e double
black lung now so uh he has breathing
problems like a lot of people in this
area have breathing problems just being
down in the mines year after year your
lungs taken in yeah a lot of uh the
people that I see come through the
hospital work have breathing problems
not even being in a coal mines at one
there was so much coal that it’s in the
air it’s in water that’s one good aspect
of the industry declining right like the
yeah and no I think it’s more of a
catch-22 we relied so much on it in this
area it’s just devastating now and you
have a lot of just Wasteland houses and
things where nobody lives right but it
was the main by far the main economic oh
Lord yeah it was everything it was I
don’t think anything wasn’t affiliated
with coal
this is beautiful Jimmy
what are the prices of some of these
houses here they run anywhere from 60s
to 100
000 60k for a two bedroom two bathroom
three bedroom two bath basement it’s
just because so many people have moved
whether the yeah well they never went up
this right here this is the Virginia
West Virginia state line where we were
at down in Bluefield yep down in that
area now the way I’m going to take you
is back around and we’ll go through the
mountains into Wyoming County they may
be two or three thousand people live in
a small town but on the outskirts of it
there’s 10 or 15 000 that live in the
mountains and hollers and every 100
yards 200 yards there’s a place where
you turn off and go up a holler up on
the side of a mountain and and that’s
where it’s deep deep Appalachian deep
deep Appalachia people out there a lot
of them never never even leave right
right they have no reason to leave
thank you
this is matoka I don’t think
revitalizing this would do any good it’s
pretty rough now there’s some good
people from Atoka don’t get me wrong
there’s some excellent people from down
here this place was really hard hit by
the coal industry see the
one of the coal Bridges going across
yeah the bigger homes down here that
you’ll see on the Main Street right here
they were the bosses houses and the one
of them is probably medical my grandpa’s
house was a doctor’s office so they were
bigger like these are but then you get
into the smaller houses as most of your
workers okay
there’s the sheriff’s department
I mean it’s just a little tiny building
I gotta say Jimmy it doesn’t look too
bad most of uh the town and stuff was
over in here and it’s it’s gone most of
it see all the old buildings and stuff
oh right let’s let’s cruise over there
downtown matoka yeah what’s left of it
the coal industry died here and then
everyone just left quickly a lot of
people lift some people stayed uh they
said everywhere you look at though
nobody really lives in towns they all
live in the hollers that Branch off
okay there’s one there’s one shop up
kind of like a ghost town in it
but then this one looks great
1978 coal software oh yeah
what what’s the story that one is that
one’s doing well everyone else be I own
computer place where they make computers
and stuff like that oh just recently
shut it down the man that do you live it
used to be pretty oh you can tell
until a month ago
the people were in town destroyed them
uh we’re making a video about Appalachia
you mind sir okay thank you so you live
out here my mommy leaves up on um Bailey
Street okay so how long ago was it when
this was just thriving is that like 30
years back I’d say the 80s and into the
90s there used to be like some bars and
it used to be like four or five bars and
like there used to be a movie place and
oh wow a pharmacy and a Piggly Wiggly
and all kinds of stuff and then like
when they started shutting the coal
mines down it just
just died off and then for the past I’d
seven years drugs took over everybody my
boss they own the old school they’re
trying to redo everything right now yep
and uh try to bring backs up to the
you know yeah
it happens that way I guess everywhere
so you’re saying this was just destroyed
not long ago they just showed these
buildings down a month ago
what was in them
at least an apartment build I hear all
of them once
the kelowna’s owned them they started
doing that demolition thing to tear down
stuff they shut them down so they could
tear them down okay and then everybody
gravitated to it to like you know the
copper the wood and all that to guide
you make no money I guess
yeah yeah it used to be a really nice
town like my whole family was from down
here and then it just
they’re still good people here that try
I bet but it’s kind of hard to try when
you got
did you see a license plate New York
and in their family right now they’re
real you guys know everyone here huh
yeah everyone knows everyone yeah
it’s a good thing sometimes sometimes
it’s a bad thing because everybody knows
s thank you all the best
it’s interesting so this one place is
still here with it being a Friday and
it’s not open it kind of makes me wonder
if it’s still there AC units on so
someone’s living up there I’d say
residentially there’s probably a lot of
people still live in these buildings
right well that’s interesting what she
said they just destroyed those in the
last month
thank you
look at this your typical back alley
so you can see how people are very
defensive over coal yeah like when that
goes away then you get this one thing
it’s yeah this is exactly what you get
the alternative out here is what outside
of coal where we started today in
Bluefield you’re working at the hospital
right there’s something
but out here you’d probably have to
drive to Princeton to work right because
as you know it’s only a little bit down
the road a lot of people live here work
at the hospital very small percentage
still working coal mines at ATVs are the
way to go here to make quick money or to
put up people that are coming from out
of town
see the side by side yeah those are
legal on the highway now anywhere so
they’re trying to make a transition over
to making that one of the biggest
industries here okay
and uh like airbnbs Cabins Rentals lots
and lots and lots of people come from
out of state to ride because it’s some
of the best ATV riding in the world
they used to be houses all over the top
of the hill and all over this mountain
it’s all grown up and gone I remember
seeing like 50 houses through there how
does that make you feel
uh I hate it for the people that live
here because the people are so good I
mean when your buddy came here to film
this he said oh everybody’s kind of
won’t talk to you and stuff that’s
probably further from the truth if
especially probably if you they see you
somebody you know that they know or
they’ll probably Crown you around you
when we get to Mullins
this is Wyoming County we’re topping
into Wyoming County there’s not a
traffic light in the county uh we don’t
have red lights fair to say this is one
of the most remote parts of the state
yes absolutely this in McDowell County
probably your two most remote ones
this is uh the old football field
in high school I held but most of the
high school’s gone
but that was part of the high school
but they consolidate it looks like
somebody lives there and got a dog tied
lives in the high school it looks like
every damn
this is where all the four-wheelers and
stuff come in and this is how they’ve
actually made money doing this they got
extra gas tanks okay they got big screen
TV indoor dining it’s just it’s got
bathrooms so these are for all the
tourists these are for the four-wheelers
and stuff that come in yeah okay and
then some people ran out little cabins
and stuff here and there this is kind of
like Bud holler it doesn’t go that far
back in here but this is kind of like a
hollering it’s like a mini hauler yeah
everybody here knows everybody it used
to be really beautiful down here I mean
so the church is still functioning I’m
not sure if that one is or not this used
to be the elementary school
when I was a kid it was in perfect shape
we used to play here my cousins grew up
in that little white house right there
so when you grow up out here saying one
of these haulers you finish High School
are most kids getting out or most kids
staying they’re going
they’re getting out of town yeah there’s
a lot more opportunity outside you’ll
see some of the remnants of the coal
industry see this okay yeah
who are the big players here oh god
there were so many of them
but that’s a lot of people were cut they
stay a little bit upset about the way
the coal companies did they come in and
they pretty much robbed everybody of the
resources you know the coal they took it
out and they took it with them and they
didn’t leave anything in return for all
you know people made a decent wage and
stuff for years but then after that you
know they pulled all their health care
you could get black lung they didn’t
take care of the people but all their
money was spent elsewhere in New York
and right big towns and cities and yeah
and Nicole was running the power plants
in the country right a lot a lot of them
right the cold from here to see there’s
all kinds of different grades of coal
the hardest being anthracite
anthracite’s the hardest coal that you
can get and it’s mostly mined in
Pennsylvania Northern West Virginia
places like that it’s really really hard
hard coal okay okay the next great down
is bituminous and it’s a little bit
softer cold but it’s the best burning
and cleanest coal or not it ain’t
cleaner than anther site but it’s Clean
Coal it’s not dirty coal and it all
comes from here and that’s what this
country was built upon us by two minutes
so they came in and they made all this
money off this coal and then when they
left here’s what you get okay so do
people people feel like they’ve been
forgotten oh absolutely yeah they were
fueling the country basically right
absolutely once were they weren’t needed
this is what you get
okay and your lungs are toast for the
rest of time that’s exactly right
this is where my mom and dad want me to
put their ashes my mama’s born right
down the over the hill here and my dad’s
from bud so they want their ashes spread
off this bridge they were a lot more
tracks coming in than that right there
they used to be stacked all the way side
to side I was going to turn right here
my grandpa that’s his old house it was
the hospital for the coal mines at one
time that was oh really yeah this is uh
itman this is the coal mining camp this
is a lot of the original houses that
were here and the coal mines are still
here like all these houses are coal
mining houses
this is The Old Company Store
and now we get out I’ll show you around
to it oh wow that was The Old Company
Store right here this is The Company
Store as in grocery store hardware store
everything yeah it’s owned owned by the
coal miners
Edmond Cole company owned this my
grandpa worked for him for years the
coal companies would print their own
money and it was called Script and you
couldn’t just go anywhere and spend your
money you couldn’t go on Myrtle Beach
vacations or anything like that you had
to spend your money at the company store
that’s the only place your money was
good at your salary comes from the coal
company and they they printed their own
currency and you had to use it here or
you come by you just couldn’t go
anywhere else to buy it it was useless
you’re stuck here yep each phone company
paid you by that script that’s criminal
yeah it’s criminal when did that stop oh
that was way back in probably late 1800s
so that’s when you had a lot of
immigrants coming over doing it right
and so they’re just they’re stocked Yep
they’re basically uh you’re you’re
pretty much almost uh
I guess enslaved you would have to spend
all your money by at the coal company
they printed their own so they’re not
out anything and you had to live in
these small houses that he built for you
would they do anything like uh do
community events try to make you feel
proud and really happy about your
community because this is a nice
building I mean I don’t think they did
back then I think it was pretty much
just work live and die
how you guys doing y’all want to be on
are y’all guys from here
in Florida huh back in the woods yeah
happy happy camper Virginia
how do you like the best Virginia
West Virginia oh I like this better than
home you do I’d move here in a heartbeat
never 20 can I I grew up here a matter
of fact right up on this hill oh did you
yeah that’s awesome I was telling him
about the script I remember this I
caught the tail end of this still being
open I remember coming in as a kid but
uh the script was over by then but still
yeah they had uh everything he was
jacked up twice as what it was in
Marlins so if you bought anything from
the Country Store you’re gonna pay out
the ass for it what got me is you’re
sitting there and if your minor gets
killed in the mines they had seven days
to remarry and it’s like whoa what wait
wait or they had to get move out of
there yeah so they’re in their houses
and the coal miners own those houses the
coal mine owns those houses so
everything goes through the houses and
that’s what you do but if a husband got
killed in the mine she had seven days to
remarry or she was of course she was
gone they took offers they wanted a man
in there to be mining they packed up all
their stuff and they took it to the city
limits and left it yep that’s how they
done it exactly yep it’s sad I mean that
but that’s the way it was I barely
remember when they last had businesses
in here but I know about nine or ten
years ago they had a post office there
in that building okay but I don’t think
this one’s ever been
redeveloped or anything but I was really
young probably five or six years old
seven cool building
they had a homeless shelter in that too
for a while
they had elevator in it you remember
when this was all functional yeah we’d
come in here and buy stuff yeah like
what just a meal bread eggs do you
remember the workers that worked here
yeah were they in uniforms or how they
looked nah they just wore uh like
coveralls and everybody came out that I
mean everything was black except for
their eyes and her teeth
all the coal miners yeah the black is
your shirt
just covered I mean everything animals
so this place was busy oh this place
here when I was a kid it probably was
more busy back in the older days but as
a kid there was people in and out here
all the time this was like the Hub of
the community
I remember people up on this balcony
here would do the books and there were
desks up there and they would do the
books for the mining companies and stuff
and you can hear them up there
chattering along with other typewriters
and stuff right I mean you’re not that
old what are you 42 I wish
yeah I’m 42 for the camera I’ll be 49 in
July yeah so it’s really not even that
old this looks like it’s been
out of business for a long time but it’s
not that long ago well yeah probably I
mean it’s just crazy how fast things
complicated here’s the 35 40 years but
things Decay so quickly they do because
of this climate it’s so humid
wow that’s old what was up here
you get a postcard yeah that was her old
old old Governor years and years and
years ago
Gaston Caper look at him
that’s funny it was founder
was the Coal Company for people sort of
a love hate
like as in it was their income and their
livelihood but then it was hey get your
what do you call it script and you can’t
go anywhere and use it anywhere and
you’d probably hate the person that’s
doing that to you I’d say they probably
weren’t too fond of it but that’s what
what choices do you have when you’re
enslaved into something
you don’t have a choice go to work
it’s the only way you’re going to feed
your family
right I mean what else do you do
you can hate or complain about it but
they probably just shoot you
so now I’m trying to understand if I
grew up here
if my family was here multiple
my father worked in the coal mine he
endured that let’s say
now we’re in 2023.
and I have people telling me like
looking down on me for being from coal
country or being involved with coal
right that’s got to be tough
I’d say some people are fake I mean I
guess West Virginia people were just so
used to having a negative shadow cast on
us and it’s not that way at all I guess
it would be hard knowing that everybody
perceives you as a inbred or and I don’t
think everyone does it’s just uh Bank
woods and uneducated right is it the
people are different it’s a different
vibe totally yesterday I was at a little
place off the side of the road for
dinner spaghetti meatballs homemade
meatballs I sat and talked with a local
he got up to leave he had to leave
earlier than me yeah when I went to pay
they were like he’s already paid yeah
you’ll get the like that type of that’s
like some you don’t see that much these
days I gotta say
what is that it’s a roll of paper this
could be the kind of paper they printed
or script out of
but I think that was the currency most
of their currency was coins though
that’s what people kept or coins okay
and each one of if I had some I’d show
you but each one of them had a hole
punched in it it’s like it was the size
of a quarter but it’d have a like an A
or a moon or something punched into it
so they knew it was authentic and it
came from their coal mine very hard to
you know reproduce it or counterfeit it
this is all shipping and receiving and
uh when they bring everything in it was
kind of protected from everybody they
could leave stuff out overnight stuff
and lock this main door down here but
yeah this is was it wild back in the
days like wild west type stuff gunfights
where it was pretty pretty nailed down
like I’d say you had a few people that
were wild yeah and they even mentioned
no names or anything like my dad but my
mom was a deputy and my dad about her he
was incarcerated
your dad Met Your Mother and he was a
prisoner yeah he has not been in any
trouble Cynthia but
uh he’s got skills yeah yeah Dan was he
was a little while back in these days
but what was he in prison for he wasn’t
in prison just jail oh what was he in
jail yeah probably fighting or drinking
or something
what was this uh this was a post office
in a bank at one time it’s where you
come in and get your script or whatever
get paid they give you a pay slip I
believe I’m not sure on how it’s the way
it actually went but they give you a pay
voucher and you came here to get your
script and then you went there to buy
your groceries
or whatever you needed this is still a
pretty good shape
now this was the they had a homeless
shelter here I think of 90s
94.95 maybe okay I’m guessing why is
nobody squatting this now do you think
that’s a lot of homeless people want to
live in West Virginia I mean if I was
going to be homeless I want to be near
somewhere I could get something to eat
somewhere I could yeah right I’ve seen
zero homeless people here we have them
it’s just you don’t see it though you
don’t see it it’s not as common as like
big cities and stuff
West Virginia’s hate mountaintop removal
it’s the people that own the land the
outside investors they sell a whole
Mountain they come in and just rip the
top off of it for a coal and it’s
usually a cheaper coal and it burns a
lot faster and a lot nastier so is there
a lot of that outside money coming in
buying the land and then they bought it
years ago like that one up there that
was a that’s a small piece of it if that
is one but it scars the land permanently
when I was a kid this River used to
almost be black all the time it’s
finally over the years has cleaned
itself out and gotten rid of a lot of
the sludge and stuff in it so how is the
environment out here overall or that’s
that’s tough to say or now they’re
running raft trips on this one or
knutrients it’s a lot better than what
it used to be
which is good that’s the good aspect I
mean call it cold I don’t know much
about it it burns dirtier than natural
gas obviously right well I have two
views on them everybody wants to go
electric and oh it’s going to be so good
for the community and the world and the
environment but where do you think that
electricity is coming from
right coal and gas right it’s still
that’s where we’re still getting our
electricity from now if we were all
solar or even with dams and rivers and
stuff it still doesn’t
make enough energy
so that’s what you’re talking about yeah
just someone comes in blasts off a
mountain that one’s in operation though
that’s in operation it ain’t that old
okay so it’s really hard to grasp like
you’re destroying the environment
for the economy obviously people have to
live if I grew up out here and that was
my only option I’d be driving that dump
truck to or doing whatever it took right
how dirty it is terrible
for the the roads and just everything
stays dirty all the time right so
but the world’s better with less coal
fair to say not really I mean West
Virginia is not I mean right uh
I guess that is your double-edged sword
you know like that’s good for the people
but is it bad for the environment well
yeah it’s bad for the environment but
the way they’re doing it now is a lot
dirtier and harmful to the environment
than what it was when you had coal
miners underground pulling that out from
four miles deep interesting so this
Mountaintop stuff
is actually worse oh it’s a lot worse I
don’t know a lot of people that are for
that unless you were rich and you had uh
so why is why is that allowed because uh
your politicians okay they allow it
that’s how it works and nobody knows
about it nobody cares about it but us
and you’re never going to hear anybody
say anything about it either unless you
come here
now coming up here we have one of the
new coal tipples this has been here less
than a year what’s a temple a temple was
where the cold all comes together and it
gets processed and sent out to other
places okay this thing is it so that’s
that’s servicing that Mountaintop we
just saw probably that’s all brand new a
year ago maybe a year and a half ago
this was none of this was here now this
high school here is the Consolidated one
Consolidated as in there were many now
there’s just one there’s just one this
is where I would have graduated at if I
were to graduate 99 or later but it’s
it’s a good sized school there’s a lot
of kids that go there so how far out
does the uh does this stretch as far as
kids from what 10 20 30 miles out come
along yeah they can have a commute of
how long an hour hour and a half School
Bus yeah a lot of times if you live in a
your parents will take you to the end of
the highway and there’s a bus stop there
that you’ll kind of Wade in okay
that’s the way it was and you know any
holler I’ve been around that everybody
drops you off at the end of the holler
you walk a lot of kids walk
now we’re coming into New Richmond it is
the actual cold Camp too it’s just where
people’s left and yeah but I mean we
still have people living I have a cousin
that lives here because they’re in
Appalachia they’re so deeply rooted to
family and land right so you don’t want
to go even if you see it going downhill
although it’s the way most people are
here they don’t like I mean they don’t
mind you coming in yeah as a stranger
they’ll open you know have open arms for
you but
for us to go somewhere
that’s not so much we did that the
people would rather stay here
now if you grow up in a family that’s
been here many generations you leave
stayed in New York City
do they look down upon you no at that
point no they
I don’t think people are as judgmental
here I mean people have been through so
much here living here that
I don’t think anybody judges anybody now
they do look down on drugs and people
are strung out and stuff but I think
it’s everywhere I mean right I think
society’s just getting to a point where
they’re tired of the drug problem and
stuff and the problems that it that it
carries with it yep but uh it’s hard to
take a West Virginia out of West
Virginia but if you get them out you
know a lot of times they show up but I
know one guy I know one guy Jimmy that
has a girlfriend down in Atlanta yeah
and uh you might have to just be leave
West Virginia you may have to we’ll just
see what happens put me on it’s fun
but she’s worth it though I mean she’d
be worth moving to West Atlanta
this is where I grew up at you have a
huge courthouse in the middle of nowhere
beautiful this is the jail they built it
in 1930s and they built this in 1916.
this is my the place where I played at
and I did my homework at the county jail
every day
I mean we’re really deep in now yeah
this is this is about as deep in as you
guys did you get in Appalachia where
you’re removed well Kentucky has some
places too right yeah Kentucky and
Eastern Kentucky
this was a hot babe for politics back
years ago if you landlocked uh or got
Wyoming County McDowell County in your
pocket you had all Southern West
Virginia tied up even though it was just
a few electoral votes still a lot of
money down here that they wanted to hold
of right
and so it’s really interesting cruising
through all of these different towns how
they all have some have decayed to that
that one where we saw the lady right I
mean that was like gone this is coming
back so that’s just how it is in
Appalachia that’s how it is some making
some don’t this being the county seat
kind of oh that’s hot yeah so there’s
some government money coming into here
yeah probably and do you notice in
um with drugs like
it gets a hold of some people and then
that sort of like grows in friend
networks family networks and then like
sometimes we’ll have a lot more of a
drug problem than other towns I think so
yeah does that work yeah when it hit
here the town next to us in Oceana the
pharmaceutical companies are being sued
for pumping drugs into that big I mean
big Pharma Oxycontin problems Oxycontin
right they were selling more in that one
town than any place in the whole state
more Oxycontin there than anywhere any
place in the state and that would that
was the pill Mill situation stuff coming
up from Florida and we come here and the
people here would I mean everybody was
on drugs over there at one time and
that’s gone down yeah it’s gone down I
mean they’ve cracked down on it as far
as law enforcement and stuff but but all
the doctors were in on it or how did I
think everybody was in on it that was
Cash Cow
and when was that the biggest like 10
years ago it was probably 2 000 yeah
around 2000 2005 2006 somewhere around
there okay what’s crime like out here
right now do you think uh
well if it’s related to drugs and stuff
I’d say I know it’s on a decline I don’t
think it’d ever get really got out of
hand much okay I mean this is I’ve seen
a lot of sheriff’s cars and a lot of
police cars around here I think they’ve
stepped it up a lot in God we trust how
important is religion out here these
when I was a kid it was big everybody
went to church
not so much anymore I think religions
kind of fell everywhere though it’s not
just here but even in the you consider
yourself the South here
no uh okay what do you consider yourself
West Virginian you’re your own yeah we
uh you weren’t Confederate you weren’t
Union we weren’t Confederate reunion we
kind of got caught in the middle of it
and pick a side so the Mason-Dixon Line
went under us and went above Kentucky
so when under you meant meant your
yeah we were considered Union but you
didn’t think of yourselves as Union I
think we were just west Virginians man
we were still coal mining and being used
by coal companies we didn’t really care
you said no internet
that’s what it said
what’s that like out here in these parts
um you just get used to it
sure there are a lot of towns here
without internet yep a town like this
has Wi-Fi internet in it or you can get
Wi-Fi and it’s probably Sky High when we
go remote here and you’re saying these
haulers where lots of people oh you want
to get no cell service and you will not
have internet so people what did they
watch TV out there oh they ride bikes
and or ride motorcycles and
four-wheelers and build fires and drink
beer and right but they’re not online at
all no now I’d come over here and go
ride with one of my friends for the
weekend and uh I have no cell service
from the time I hit Wyoming the top of
the uh heard of mountain I had you from
the time I hit that in the Wyoming
County I don’t have nothing all weekend
which is kind of nice to hear trees
about it
come on somebody’s got an interesting
intersection huh yeah well we don’t have
any red lights like I said no red lights
no internet in a lot of the county yep
there’s even a place in West Virginia
called a green banks that has these huge
and they look like satellite dishes
and then the whole entire town you’re
not allowed to have a cell phone on at
any time I guess they’re reading stuff
from outer space and all kinds of stuff
but you’re not allowed to have a selfie
it’s against the law to have a cell
phone in that town
this is a key Rock it’s a holler so
haulers for those that don’t know how
would you explain it it’s just a road
off the main road where people live at
and inside of a valley you’ll go between
the mountains and it stays right in the
bottom of the valley until you run out
of Valley or it comes out somewhere I’m
really surprised we’re super remote look
how good the pavement is yeah they paved
this about two years ago a year ago my
uncle lived in this house my dad’s other
brother that’s his garage but he lived
in the house behind this now this will
have to turn around but this is a holler
holler this is the real hauler this is a
holler yeah so a lot of people doing
their own Gardens and whatnot they do
their own Gardens they maintain their
land you’ll get up here and you’ll be
like they’re so far up in here why do
they mow their grass nobody’s ever going
to see it so everyone knows everyone
people here we go some deer
that’s why I don’t drive new cars right
there right they’re everywhere hero well
it looks delicious do you hunt them no
no I did when I was when I was younger
right look at these big Gardens yeah so
would you say it’s a good Community back
here or oh yeah everybody
in this holler knows everybody they know
who they are when they come what time
they work if they work outside of here
what time they come home so if someone
comes in from out of town driving up
here everyone knows it’s not yeah from
here and they’re like people look out
for each other yeah they do and now
probably not so much now but if we were
back 20 years ago and we were in an
unknown car coming up this road they
were most of the time on a um
what they call it a the landlines that
everybody’s connected a party line okay
sorry I couldn’t think of it but the
party line if the lady at the beginning
of the hauler was on the phone and the
lady at the end of the holler wanted to
use it this lady had to hang hers up so
she could get through it was all party
line so everybody had the same phone
number but it rang different like the
woman at the beginning would have one
ring the guy the next guy would have two
rings the next guy would have three
that’s just 20 years ago probably 20 30
years ago yeah all right so we had to
turn around quickly up there we probably
couldn’t win much further than that most
haulers aren’t real real long oh they’re
not a mile mile and a half now the key
Rock the one we’re going back to and
finishing up coming out it’s about three
four or five miles through okay but uh
it’s a holler as well it’s just a little
bit better paved holler
and this one ain’t bad a lot of them are
dirt or some people never leave West
Virginia I mean there’s some people it
goes out of their holler maybe once or
twice a year and that’s it yeah you
think some of these people living here
would leave once or twice a year yeah
they’d probably go to Myrtle Beach oh
really Myrtle Beach is uh the West
Virginia Hawaii Myrtle Beach South
Carolina everybody’s like oh let’s go to
the beach
Myrtle Beach I’d say a good percentage
of people from West Virginia have never
been on planes have never really been
outside of the state of West Virginia I
mean if they do it’s usually Tennessee
to Gatlinburg or they go to Myrtle Beach
and besides that they don’t go nowhere
some people go to DC every once in a
while if you want to see a big town go
to DC so if you grew up here you spend
all your life here and then all of a
sudden you go to New York City that’s
got to be a nice whole shocker oh man I
tell you what let’s go into another
country right for me when I left here
I’d been out of the state a few times
quite a few times as a child but living
outside of West Virginia like the first
place I was in was Texas and that was
for basic training yeah and then I went
from here to South Carolina to Shaw Air
Force Base South Carolina
and I met people from all over the world
it just it’s a culture shot
you glad you did it oh I love yeah yeah
definitely and I’m glad I got to travel
the world and but I tell you it’s
definitely a culture shock because
you’re used to people being one way all
your life and then all of a sudden
people ain’t the same you know when you
get in a crowd of different people right
this is your holler holler people
so what are people here just for example
what are they doing for work they don’t
they live on chicks
like uh food stamps food stamps
government checks some of them and some
of them don’t I mean some of them own
their own property up here and some just
decide not to leave key Rock I mean they
want to stay here but usually if their
house is pretty dilapidating stuff
usually they live on a check they’re
disabled or older or they can live off
how much up here do you think oh [ __ ] if
you own the property I mean hell you
could live off a hundred and two hundred
three hundred dollars a month easy I
figured you were thinking you know I’ll
run down everything yeah it was
especially out here
I thought the further out we would we
would get the more rundown it would be
that’s just a stereotype now there’s
going to be some rough spots but it’s
like it everywhere that’s beautiful look
at all this grass yeah that’s what I
kind of wanted to bring you this way
because this is what it really is it’s
stereotypically you would think people
playing banjos on their front porch and
yeah where is that yeah I want to see
someone they don’t have that not
what about blue Bluegrass I want to hear
some bluegrass I can Kentucky you’re
more you’re more likely to run into
holler people like that in Kentucky and
you are West Virginia that’s why I was
glad to do this video because there’s
such a misconception living in Kentucky
for 25 years they always made fun of
West Virginia because they knew they
were worse than we were close
so they would always try to put us down
I’m like no it’s not that bad I’ve seen
some rough places in Kentucky I mean
especially Eastern Kentucky it was hit a
lot like this was I can say we’ve had a
little bit better because you know just
some of our leadership and our
government’s been a little bit better
and they’ve tried to do better things
but what keeps this place different from
all the other places is pride I love
being here and being from here and just
raised to be a good person most of your
people here you’ll hardly ever find a
nasty hateful mean self-centered person
here in this area not in southern West
unless they’re strung out on drugs or
there were 29 minors that got killed in
the upper Big Branch it was an explosion
probably I can’t remember the exact date
of it over 10 years ago but uh one of
the friends I went to high school with
and a guy that was Keen to me somehow
through family or something down the
road died in it but these are some of
the coal miners that’s died inside the
coal mines well it’s too bad there are a
lot of a lot of blank bricks to be
filled you know yeah
well it’s gotten safer over the years
but it’s still not as safe as it could
be it’s still a dangerous occupation 27
years in the mine is that what that
means I believe so yeah
what’s the average lifespan in the mine
it just depends everybody’s lungs are
different some uh will work 10 or 15
years and get black lung and some work
25 30 years it just depends on your body
and how it takes it why don’t they wear
a mask
it’d be like trying to thread a needle
with mask on well the goggles on you
can’t do it it’s just right you can’t be
working in cold and working as hard as
you do which I’ve never done it before
but these guys get down there and you
just can’t do your job with the mask on
a respirator you just can’t do it now
the ones that do do it I don’t know how
they do it but they’re it’s one of the
hardest jobs in the United States is a
coal mine it’s physical down there very
physical some of them working coal you
know listen that neuro machinery and
that’s all the leeway you got I mean
when you get four miles deep that cold
scene may not be that tall
so you’re crawling and all kinds of
stuff to dig cold you’re like with a
pick down there picking up no no they
got a machine it’s a miner that goes in
and they ride the minor Inn and they got
to keep it lubed they got to keep the
coal on the Belt there’s a big Bell that
goes they blow it up down there oh yeah
they use explosives still yet wow but
the miner does most of it I believe
I’m not a coal miner so don’t take my
word on it it’s never too late no no no
so this town is sort of in between huh
yeah half alive it’s trying to yeah
but this one’s really big for the four
wheelers and stuff like that this is a
good hub for them to come in off the
trails let’s go see if we can get some
grub oh yeah
this is your buddy’s restaurant yeah
excellent food
hello hey
okay 2015 mines went to yeah they were
leaving West Virginia so fast but U-Haul
was taking van loads of people out
bringing their U-Haul equipment back so
more people could leave
yeah mine’s like now just they’re wide
open they’re hiring Red Hats new new
hires and put them on day shift because
what are Red Hats inexperienced minors
rookies yeah guys like me I could get a
job tomorrow
class you have to go take a class yeah
rent a ship
pretty much and you have to you have to
spend time with them experienced minor
before six months I think you can get
your experience Minor’s card so jobs are
coming back yeah they’re everywhere like
anywhere else everybody’s having trouble
finding help how much are they paying in
this area 30s today I found out we got a
couple of boys on the job it’s going
down to Coal Mountain yeah do some type
of contractor they’re paying him 50
bucks an hour well the highway there’s
no highways coming through yeah that’s
probably what it is right now things are
booming I mean it’s so is that like you
see it good for a few months and then it
might take a turn down or it’s like it’s
going to look good for years or you
don’t know hard to tell how does coal
work the uh
analysts say that this cold room is
going to last a while because of the
electric cars and people talk about
green energy and these electric cars are
getting charged Off the Grid and that’s
mostly cold
okay the big power plants in this region
of the country are cool most of them
some other gas they substitute natural
gas but most of them are cold if we put
all the electric cars on the ground
on solar and gas and wind it failed and
if we’re going all electric cars which I
hope most of them do I’ll never buy one
Road job or truck is that a truck driver
no what’s a road driver sorry did you
come down to copen Expressway no no you
already come down I came across
mountains I worked on the last six miles
of this road job okay some of these Road
jobs that are going in now is some of
the stuff that was planned Under the
Kennedy Ministry and they’re just now
getting to them Larry Pineville you went
to Welch Yeager they’re pretty secluded
so this Road’s going in and it should
open a lot of access up to them that
helps with call getting it oh yeah
moving the coal for the trucks sure
because now it’s all two lane roads
they’re gonna put a highway through
wow a lot of excess up for people see
you guys you guys grew up here I grew up
in Mingo County’s down I’ve traveled all
over because of the work I’ve been in
seven different states in the last six
you like it the best in Western Virginia
you can live the American dream out here
if you want you can buy a home for
pretty cheap get a job pay your bills
or no you can live way above them medium
six figure salary
no no I mean high school diploma most of
them don’t even require that anymore but
if you got good work and and you know
don’t care to lay in their work you can
make six figures easy easy at 18 years
old wow right out of high school or even
not even out of house and you’re saying
they’re just they can’t fill the jobs in
Wyoming they have a summer program for
their kids if their kids are over 18
years old and the parents work at the
mines they will send them to get their
surface card and work them through the
summer so they can pay for the college
okay what’s the big Downfall with
working in the mines black loans
I mean you name it you just you’re by
the time that you’re able to retire you
retire because you have no choice
when you guys retired usually
early 60s at the latest I know a bunch
of them that they go home and sit on the
porch and maybe live six months after
that yeah
if they quit working that’s it
how do how do the miners feel about the
mining companies in general because in
the past in the days of the scripts
right where you basically were like had
to buy whatever they wanted it was legal
as slavery legal isolated it’s gotten
better obviously since then but is there
still like a hard uh divide between the
no not so much that’s not what I’m
um they had a lot of trouble back in the
80s with the with Union and companies
and things like that yeah my grandpa my
dad I worked in the union and there was
more trouble between the company and
demand on those jobs than pretty much
anywhere but no today it’s if you work
and you show up every day they’re
they’re tickled to have you the tree’s
pretty good anymore
you got rid of companies like Massey
that didn’t I didn’t
like them as well I know they have some
pretty shady dealings which is why
they’re not business anymore
but no for the most part they treat you
good Southern goal barbecue it’s a
mustard base uh South North Carolina
it’s kind of a sauce our regular
barbecue just a regular sweet barbecue
but it is very good I literally put it
on everything sting and honey barbecue
if you want something a little bit of a
okay we got steak people living cheap
bacon cheese loaded mashed potatoes fair
to see fully loaded yeah and no you
can’t have a bite
here we go and put the spicy kick good
deal that’s what you need oh you want me
so this is a standard pulled pork
sandwich in these parts yeah that’s
for Jason’s it is Jason ever does
everything he wants his customers happy
is it good good deal very nice you know
very simple I like that yep right to the
stay cooked perfect
Jason’s uh business again
the rebel Smokehouse
what happened during coven was uh they
found that West Virginia was a great
place with a lot of outdoor activities
so vacations for a couple years ended up
being here it’s a lot of people that are
like us and I joke with them all the
time I say I know when I opened my mouth
you can hear banjos playing in the
background but it doesn’t matter whether
you’re from from you know one of the
larger cities or or from from farmlands
out in the midwest it doesn’t matter
it’s our type of people it’s family
people it’s blue collar people it’s the
type of people that like this type of of
vacations where you know they’re out
riding side besides or gear kids or the
type of guys that like to get out I’m
sure and with their family they’re
family people so yeah so we’ve had a lot
of luck I guess those folks also have
the lodging here and we have no problem
you have logic oh okay
great escape lodging so you’ve seen a
huge uptick in the last few years
when you say uh the property is owned by
land companies Coal companies right not
necessarily land companies came over the
railroad Lang companies keep property
for things like for four coal mines to
at least out property for coal mines
logging industry and things like that so
they think of property in more 500 year
spans and 100 Year spans like we can see
so who owns the land companies well
they’re owned by like the Georgia
Pacific large large companies that
they’re just hedging their bets down the
road they’re going to pull some
resources and they do I mean that’s what
they do here I mean that’s what they do
around there it’s their property and all
their rights and means it’s their
property so we’re fortunate that they
lit the half of the Court Trail systems
run on their property okay and what you
hear you have two types of riding here
you have the legal type of riding which
what they call Outlaw riding which is
still yet on their properties just in
places that have not been sanctioned for
for the trail we’re next in the ride how
do you guys feel about the big say land
holding companies or corporations buying
up a lot or controlling a lot of the
they’ve been here since since we’ve been
here I mean the property that we have is
property that you know they pretty much
have decided that we we can have I mean
it was theirs at the beginning so these
towns wouldn’t exist without it without
this is a railroad town here a lot more
culture okay yeah so that’s why they’re
here to begin ladies do you side by side
hey everybody okay everybody okay silly
you’re outlawed trailing it you want to
say that on camera
nobody cares nobody okay so it’s normal
to outline there’s a lot of trails yeah
since we were kids before they were
called out loud
okay things are getting a lot easier
it’s been a blessing to us but when I
have filmed with a tourism bit industry
the highway that came from Raleigh
County down to the southern part of the
state has opened us up to the rest of
the world you know there’s so many parts
of the country that can’t imagine not
having a four-lane Highway close to
their home we just we’ve been so
secluded so long it just uh it’s really
made a big difference in the way we live
here so it’s been a blessing that’s
great to hear because I would have
things were just deteriorating going
down down further down absolutely not
right now the coal markets through the
roof like you know the type of coal that
they these guys mind around here and
there was some coal miners sitting there
having dinner yeah um you know they’re
they’re proud of what they do but it’s
high Met cold it’s the type of coal that
you use in in steel manufacturing not
like power not power plants like steamco
it’s a it’s a good stuff it goes it’s
used in steel manufacturing as in part
of the process of right so when they
take their iron ore or anything iron and
make it into steel yes that’s when they
heat it it has to have a a type of coal
that burns hotter to produce steel so
you might I’m not an expert on steel
manufacturing but
there we go steam call so we have we
have a metallurgical coal here yeah it’s
measured by the BTUs okay when they burn
the rbtus will burn out the grates in
the power plants the steam cold markets
really went down a lot here in the last
little bit
steam color I think selling for around
50 60 a ton metallurgical Coal Sales
around 270 and up so what were you
saying about cold Wars and uh the only
U.S citizens getting bombed by the US
government the largest conflict since
the Civil War was the Battle of Blair
mountain in Logan County I’m going to
put this right here is that right yeah
um you had Union coal miners fighting
company coal miners and it was a
conflict to the point of the U.S
government actually deployed the
National Guard and actually ended up
dropping bombs on our own people the
local West Virginians were women hands
down so they got their way with the
bringing the union into the area at the
but that’s that’s the largest conflict
on U.S soil the workers went on strike
they didn’t want to go to work it was
um it was when the time ended where the
company script
it was given to the men from the company
they had to use that they lived in
company houses they had to pay rent to
the company they could only use that
money at the company store
and usually at the end of the pay period
they owed more than what they made they
had to buy their own tools from the
company underground miners had to buy
their own blasting tools blasting
equipment dynamite and such
but everything was the purchased from
the company so they got their own money
back most people owed more than they
would have ever worked off it was just a
legal form of slavery
and that resulted in bringing in the the
umwa you’re not a Mine Workers of
America and those companies didn’t want
them here so they hired gun thugs bald
one Fest detectives they called them but
they were just gun thugs
and they they’re still finding shell
casings from belt fed fully automatic
weapons and these local boys were
kicking their hind ends with what they
had home that time it cost more to
replace a mule than it did a man they
used meal to pull coal cars off from
underground it cost them around 200 to
replace a mule if it got killed man got
killed they gave his widow 50 bucks put
her out of the company house her and her
kids under any circumstances they were
evicted immediately wow so how much does
Cole mean to you it’s it’s everything
one one coal job represents another
eight jobs in this state
other than the Hatfield McCoy trail
which has brought in a lot of money but
this that’s all there is here you’re
either a school teacher a nurse or a
coal miner right if you make a
substantial living here what they want
to know if you want to ride a side by
side no it’s a wagon wheel with them but
they’ll drive us the place where all the
four-wheelers are and stuff do we have
time we got plenty of time it’s back in
the world this place where yeah we went
we went to school with these kids that
live in this area
there was an hour-long bus ride it is
truly in the middle of the Woods
this was all strip mined a lot of people
came up here since it was flat ground
and we don’t have any flat ground
anywhere they came up here and built
houses on it so 30 years after 30 35 40
years after these strips then you can
build on it but uh I mean who wants to
live on a flat area on top of a mountain
I guess these people do interesting
so why 30 years you just have to wait
for nature to retake it’s well they
should retake it because it’s all gravel
when they’re done with it just bust a
gravel and stuff
that’s true that’s the only flat piece
of land I’ve seen all day yeah
but a lot of people come up here I mean
there’s some really nice houses and
places up here this is where the wealthy
live yeah some of the wealthy live up
here on top of the mountain yeah like I
mean they’re beautiful houses
this is really hard to wrap my head
around because we are in the middle of
nowhere yeah on top of you’re in these
towns that are a lot of them are
decaying empty storefronts and then
people have money for this oh yeah well
the one of the first ones to build up
here was Doc Whalen he was a
psychiatrist and he had a absolutely
huge house but they tore it down it was
right here but there’s an airport here
it’s a private airport yeah and it
starts right here and it goes out and
goes off a cliff at the end of it does
anyone fly out of it anymore I don’t
think so if they do I wouldn’t know it
these ladies could tell you probably so
these ladies this is their house yeah so
these are the ladies we met at the bar
at the bar yeah at the uh Jason’s
these things are pretty Gucci out huh
there’s a lot going on here he’s added a
lot to this
there’s heat yeah it’s your husband’s
all right that was uh what was that an
hour in probably
probably about 45 minutes yeah 45
minutes in this is out in the middle of
absolutely nowhere now when I was a kid
we used to come up here but for
different reasons we’d just get a
campfire and a bunch of kids sneaking
beer and drinking and yeah yeah I mean
usually when you come here it’s packed
just get away from it all like no rules
apply here because where are you you’re
just in the middle of nowhere right
there’s zero Sheriff I think that’s what
people like about it no cops just ride
any way you want to while I’m wide open
who are the people that come out here
mostly vacationers locals
pretty much vocational and I was telling
him it’s usually packed yes I’m
surprised like crazy I mean like the
whole place is starting miners vacation
so it’s hard to tell where everybody’s
at right what’s Miner’s vacation July
Fourth week why do you call it minors
because that’s when they all get their
vacation almost every coal mine shut
down the week of four yeah
okay so all the coal miners get a good
extended break right now yes
right now and
this is crazy we’re like literally an
hour in
in the woods
how’d you come up with the idea to start
this out here me and her got together
and we owned another bar and we decided
we owned the land so we just let’s build
one we built them but aren’t you I built
build it
well yeah
it works how’s business right right
busy as ever you’ve made your American
dream happen amen you’re doing your own
thing out here no Sheriff down here no
comp that’s right and they’re expanding
yeah we’re putting a new one in where uh
hey Jerry wrote 11 miles from here
who’s your best customer
all right what else do you want to say
sir before we bounce
well we love everybody we’re grateful
for anybody comes in here and does
business with us
that was so cool of the ladies taking us
out there yeah that was cool to see the
outlaw because that is like a separate
world out there it is I mean you’re
talking 45 minutes out in the woods I’m
in Bluefield I’m thinking okay now I’m
removed then next level is out here and
then next level is Outlaw right and that
I mean even this is secluded I mean
you’re still seven eight ten miles from
town an old Runway
I was told by a friend that people would
be very closed off to me in a camera oh
yeah in these parts a surprise just
wasn’t that way today at all like
everyone was very friendly yeah
everybody here is like it and they
always have been I just did Outsiders
they come here that’s why they love to
stay you’re very proud people absolutely
yeah and rightfully so well thank you I
appreciate it all right good stuff
thanks a lot man no problem anytime all
right guys you want to say it until the
next one no I go ahead all right you do
it myself
good stuff Jimmy

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