Inside the 'Brotherhood' of Coal Mining


As coal jobs continue to disappear in Appalachia, some families are holding tight to the idea that coal will come back. Surprisingly, it’s not the pay that they miss about the work but the bond that comes with working in the mines. They often call it a ‘brotherhood.’

There’s a unique and strong bond that comes with mining coal. Coal miners often call it a brotherhood. Our show this week is about those personal connections between coal miners.

When you think about it, it makes sense to lean on each other while working in dangerous conditions, and the same is true for Appalachians during disasters. West Virginia is recovering from widespread flooding after storms rolled through the state on June 23. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin called the floods “the worst in a century for some parts of the state.”

“The hands-on reaction from folks ready to help is overwhelming…and to me, not surprising. We also have a long tradition of helping out our neighbors. I know because my own hometown of Mullens suffered an epic flood in 2001. It will be a long road, Richwood. My heart is broken for you Ravenswood and my people across West Virginia… But just like the sign read in Mullens after the flood – tough times don’t last but tough people do. Here at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, we stand with you. " – Jessica Lilly, Inside Appalachia Host  

On this show, you’ll hear from some miners who talk about this special bond between miners and find out just how important this friendship is. Where does this ‘brotherhood’ leave women? Listen to hear from a female coal miner who showed she could be tough enough to stand up to men in the coal industry.

What role does the bond play while miners lose their jobs? What options are there? Some laid off miners are moving away to find work while others are looking for a new occupations. Find all of this and more on this week’s journey, Inside Appalachia.

So we’d like to know, what do you think? Are there jobs and industry that could put miners back to work here in your community? What would you like to see come to the area. Let us know what could help build these economies.

Send us a tweet @InAppalachia and use #myappalachia. You can also e-mail us at

You can also address your letters to Inside Appalachia in care of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, 600 Capitol Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25301.


Special thanks The Allegheny Front, WEKU in Bowling Green Kentucky, and the Humans of Central Appalachia Facebook Page.

Music in today’s show was provided by Alan Cathead Johnston, Marisa Anderson, Anna and Elizabeth, Ben Townsend, David Mumford, and Hank Williams.

Our producer is Roxy Todd. Our editor is Kara Lofton. Our audio mixer is Zander Aloi.