Inside the Battle Over a Strip-Mine Cemetery

A bird’s-eye view of the mountaintop-removal mine that emptied Lindytown, West Virginia.

Walk to the edge of the Jarrell family cemetery in the mountains of southern West Virginia, a plot of land the size of a tennis court where locals have been laid to rest for more than 200 years, and you’ll come to a cliff that drops hundreds of feet.

Stretching out before you will be a strip mine so large you could hide the island of Manhattan in it.

 To your rear will be 40 graves—old men and women, small children, veterans of conflicts from the Civil War to World War II—surrounded by a white, split-rail fence and a thin ring of trees. Underfoot: approximately four billion dollars’ worth of coal.

It’s a surreal scene, this “island in the sky,” as Debbie Jarrell put it in a lawsuit she and five others filed two weeks ago against Alpha Natural Resources, which operates the mine surrounding the cemetery. This place that was once intensely private has now become the center of a very public fight, between the people who treasure the top of the mountain and those who yearn to get at what’s beneath it.

Read the full story here.


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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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