Well, I’ll be a son of a coal miner.
In the Nov. 13 Herald-Leader, Tom Eblen and Coleman Larkin gave sharp insights into why King Coal has lost his throne in Eastern Kentucky, just as King Cotton has in the Deep South. Eblen made the case with simple recitations of facts. Larkin used biting humor.
The opening credits of the movie version of Margaret Mitchell’s novel set in the Civil War and Reconstruction eras tell a truth about Eastern Kentucky as a big coal producing region: “Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a civilization gone with the wind.” Coal is cheaper to mine elsewhere. Thus the region’s 15,000 coal jobs in 2009 have dwindled to less than 4,000.
This is the reality: The only certainty in life is change. Those who cannot or will not adapt will fall by the wayside. Prosperity may come to Eastern Kentucky (and the rest of Appalachia), but coal won’t be its engine.