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Decline Along The King Coal Highway - 14 Oct 2014
Reuters photographer Robert Galbraith documented people and towns along West Virginia's Route 52, or 'King Coal Highway' as it's known. Coal miners have worked in this part of the United States for over a century enjoying the best of the boom times and riding out the bad, the constant refrain being that coal would always be there, the mines would be back. But now with coal production slowing due to stricter environmental controls, the availability of natural gas and a shift to surface mining, the state's coal country has been hit hard with job losses and business closures, creating virtual ghost towns along the route
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A coal miner wears a T-shirt prior to the start of his afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert, West...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
A coal miner wears a T-shirt prior to the start of his afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert
A coal miner wears a T-shirt prior to the start of his afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. With coal production slowing due to stricter environmental controls, the availability of natural gas and a shift to surface mining, the state's coal country has been hit hard with job losses and business closures. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Miners fool around in their locker room prior to the start of an afternoon shift at a coal mine near...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Miners fool around in their locker room prior to the start of an afternoon shift at a coal mine near...
Miners fool around in their locker room prior to the start of an afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. But now with coal production slowing due to stricter environmental controls, the availability of natural gas and a shift to surface mining, the state's coal country has been hit hard with job losses and business closures, creating virtual ghost towns along the route. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Coal miners enter a coal mine for the start of an afternoon shift near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22,...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Coal miners enter a coal mine for the start of an afternoon shift near Gilbert
Coal miners enter a coal mine for the start of an afternoon shift near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Nick Browning enters a coal mine prior to the start of the afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert,...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Nick Browning enters a coal mine prior to the start of the afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert...
Nick Browning enters a coal mine prior to the start of the afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
The entrance to an abandoned coal mine is shown near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Robert...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
The entrance to an abandoned coal mine is shown near Gilbert
The entrance to an abandoned coal mine is shown near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Coal mining boots are shown above miners' lockers before the start of an afternoon shift at a coal mine...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Coal mining boots are shown above miners' lockers before the start of an afternoon shift at a coal mine...
Coal mining boots are shown above miners' lockers before the start of an afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Coal miners Rodney Blankenship (L), Roger Vanatter (C) and an unidentified colleague prepare for the...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Coal miners prepare for the start of their afternoon shift in the locker room of a coal mine near Gilbert...
Coal miners Rodney Blankenship (L), Roger Vanatter (C) and an unidentified colleague prepare for the start of their afternoon shift in the locker room of a coal mine near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. Blankenship, 53, a coal miner for 30 years, said "You go in there, hope to have good productivity on your shift, and get out safely." REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Coal miner Mike Hawks, 53, stands in an underground tunnel at a coal processing facility near Gilbert,...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Coal miner Mike Hawks, 53, stands in an underground tunnel at a coal processing facility near Gilbert...
Coal miner Mike Hawks, 53, stands in an underground tunnel at a coal processing facility near Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Coal is stacked at the base of coal loaders along the Ohio River in Ceredo, West Virginia May 18, 2014....
CEREDO, UNITED STATES
Coal is stacked at the base of coal loaders along the Ohio River in Ceredo
Coal is stacked at the base of coal loaders along the Ohio River in Ceredo, West Virginia May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A view of the Tug river running through downtown Iaeger, West Virginia May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith...
IAEGER, UNITED STATES
A view of the Tug river running through downtown Iaeger
A view of the Tug river running through downtown Iaeger, West Virginia May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A vacant building is shown covered in vegetation along U.S. Route 52 near Gilbert, West Virginia May...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
A vacant building is shown covered in vegetation and surrounded in garbage along U.S. Route 52 near Gilbert...
A vacant building is shown covered in vegetation along U.S. Route 52 near Gilbert, West Virginia May 21, 2014. The highway, known locally as 'The King Coal Highway' runs through West Virginia's traditional coal mining belt. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A cat walks past a pickup truck covered in vegetation on a street in Gilbert, West Virginia May 20, 2014....
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
A cat walks past a pickup truck covered in vegetation on a street in Gilbert
A cat walks past a pickup truck covered in vegetation on a street in Gilbert, West Virginia May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Wayne Cline, 70, stands outside his home near Iaeger, West Virginia May 21, 2014. Cline, a former coal...
IAEGER, UNITED STATES
Wayne Cline, 70, stands outside his home near Iaeger
Wayne Cline, 70, stands outside his home near Iaeger, West Virginia May 21, 2014. Cline, a former coal miner, said he gets by on a $742 per month social security cheque. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Coal trains sit idle in front of a home in Iaeger, West Virginia May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith...
IAEGAR, UNITED STATES
Coal trains sit idle in front of a home in Iaeger
Coal trains sit idle in front of a home in Iaeger, West Virginia May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Retired coal miner Kenneth Douglas Sparks (R), watches his son coach his grandson's Little League baseball...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Retired coal miner Kenneth Douglas Sparks watches his son and grandson's Little League baseball game...
Retired coal miner Kenneth Douglas Sparks (R), watches his son coach his grandson's Little League baseball game in Gilbert, West Virginia May 19, 2014. Sparks, who said his father worked in the same coal mine for 47 years, worked in the mines himself for 20 years. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A sign with half the letters falling off is seen near a church and coal truck in Justice, West Virginia...
JUSTICE, UNITED STATES
A sign is seen near a church and coal truck in Justice
A sign with half the letters falling off is seen near a church and coal truck in Justice, West Virginia May 19, 2014. The sign says 'please pray for our miners and their families'. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
All-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders leave to ride off-highway vehicle trails surrounding Gilbert, West Virginia...
Santa Cruz, UNITED STATES
All-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders leave to ride off-highway vehicle trails surrounding Gilbert, West Virginia...
All-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders leave to ride off-highway vehicle trails surrounding Gilbert, West Virginia May 20, 2014. The arrival of out-of-town tourists has helped an economy suffering from a loss of coal mining related jobs. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
The John Amos coal-fired power plant is seen behind a home in Poca, West Virginia May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Robert...
POCA, UNITED STATES
The John Amos coal-fired power plant is seen behind a home in Poca
The John Amos coal-fired power plant is seen behind a home in Poca, West Virginia May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A replica of the Statue of Liberty is shown in downtown Matewan, West Virginia May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Robert...
MATEWAN, UNITED STATES
A replica of the Statue of Liberty is shown in downtown Matewan
A replica of the Statue of Liberty is shown in downtown Matewan, West Virginia May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A man rides a bicycle past vacant store fronts in Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014.
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
A man rides a bicycle past vacant store fronts in Gilbert
A man rides a bicycle past vacant store fronts in Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014.
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Coal miner Stewart Johnson, 59 (R), is comforted by his son of the same name, while telling the story...
WHARNCLIFFE, UNITED STATES
Coal miner Stewart Johnson, 59, is comforted by his son of the same name, outside the family home in...
Coal miner Stewart Johnson, 59 (R), is comforted by his son of the same name, while telling the story of losing his young daughter to a rare disease, outside the family home in Wharncliffe, West Virginia May 23, 2014. Johnson, whose family has deep ties to mining, said he was advised by his doctor to stop working due to a various injuries and illness. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A car is parked outside of the "Hard Times Tavern" in Fort Gay, West Virginia May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Robert...
FORT GAY, UNITED STATES
A car is parked outside of the "Hard Times Tavern" in Fort Gay
A car is parked outside of the "Hard Times Tavern" in Fort Gay, West Virginia May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Unemployed coal miners Todd Hatfield (L) and Dave Houck talk at Hatfield's bar and restaurant in Gilbert,...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Unemployed coal miners Todd Hatfield and Dave Houck talk at Hatfield's bar and restaurant in Gilbert
Unemployed coal miners Todd Hatfield (L) and Dave Houck talk at Hatfield's bar and restaurant in Gilbert, West Virginia May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A statue of Marilyn Monroe is shown outside the now closed Happy Days Diner in Gilbert, West Virginia...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
A statue of Marilyn Monroe is shown outside the now closed Happy Days Diner in Gilbert
A statue of Marilyn Monroe is shown outside the now closed Happy Days Diner in Gilbert, West Virginia May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Unemployed coal miner Earl Harless stands in his father's backyard near Gilbert, West Virginia May 20,...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Unemployed coal miner Earl Harless stands in his father's backyard near Gilbert, West Virginia
Unemployed coal miner Earl Harless stands in his father's backyard near Gilbert, West Virginia May 20, 2014. Harless said he survived a deep mine collapse, in which two coal miners died. "We started writing our lunch box notes because we didn't think we would get out," he said. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
A motorcycle rides past a roadside hotdog stand with a sign that reads "Hillbilly Hotdogs" in Lesage,...
LESAGE, UNITED STATES
A motorcycle rides past a roadside hotdog stand in Lesage
A motorcycle rides past a roadside hotdog stand with a sign that reads "Hillbilly Hotdogs" in Lesage, West Virginia May 24, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
USA-COAL/WIDERIMAGE
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October 14, 2014
Sheila Ramsey holds the hand of her grandson, four-year-old Matthew Blankenship, in the home that they...
GILBERT, UNITED STATES
Sheila Ramsey holds the hand of her grandson, four-year-old Matthew Blankenship, in the home that they...
Sheila Ramsey holds the hand of her grandson, four-year-old Matthew Blankenship, in the home that they share with her father, and Matthew's father, near Gilbert, West Virginia May 20, 2014. Blankenship's father, Aaron, said he has been unable to find coal mining work for four years, and will probably have to leave the area. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
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