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

Birds-eye view of a green country setting with small white frame house in front of large surface coal 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 owned by Patriot Coal (was then Arch Coal) looms 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.

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.