Mountaintop Removal, When Mountains Move, National Geographic: Backyard Mine

Once this was a quiet rural community, but mining companies can legally come within 100 feet of a family cemetery and 300 feet from a home. The Hobet 21 coal mine was owned by Patriot Coal ( then Arch Coal) loomed over one of the few remaining houses in Mud, W.V.

In 2003, Hobet 21 produced about 5.2 million tons of coal, making it among the largest surface mines in the state. The Lincoln County mine has been expanding over hills and valleys, filling in Connelly Branch creek. After the company was bankrupt in 2015, the site was passed on to a conservation firm who continued mining another year.

The town of Mud hasn’t been much of a community in the couple of decades since the post office closed, but in 1998 around 60 residents remained. They had two churches and a ball field. In early 1997, Big John, the mine’s 20-story dragline, moved above Mud and more houses, near this one, were bought and destroyed.