MOUNT STORM, WEST VIRGINIA: COAL WAR

IN THE DRY-EYED NEW AMERICAN ECONOMY, ALL IT TOOK TO KILL THE THRIVING POTOMAC MINES WAS SMALL CHANGE

All mines close eventually, of course, but until recently the Potomac Complex in West Virginia's Grant County seemed protected by its solid marriage to Virginia Power's Mount Storm generating station. It was built on a tortured, windswept plateau in the mid-1960s only because abundant coal was nearby. The coal was worth mining, in turn, only because Mount Storm would burn it. Tipple and boiler were linked by a two-mile covered conveyor belt that carried coal from the east portal of the mine straight to the storage silos of the power plant. The miners still marvel at the sheer handiness of the...

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