Jessica Lilly Published

Lecture Series Explores Coal History and Legacy


Since the recent chemical spill in Charleston, the issue of clean water in West Virginia is a topic that many Southern West Virginians are discussing.  The Coal Heritage Lecture Series, an annual program presented by Concord University’s Beckley Center and the Coal Heritage Highway Authority, kicks off the 2014 programs with a look at this critical issue. 

Each spring, the Coal Heritage Public Lecture Series explores the legacy of coal in West Virginia. The series is a part of an academic class offered at Concord University called, Coal Culture in West Virginia.

The first lecture explores Industry and the Environment and Responsible Development.  Eric Autenrith and members of the Plateau Action Network, are expected to discuss their take on how industries can create responsible economic development. Speakers are expected to address past situations in the state and examine how to maintain a sustainable environment.

Plateau Action Network, based in Fayetteville, is an advocate for clean water issues.

Lectures take place on the first Tuesday of February, March, April and May at the Erma Byrd Center. located in Raleigh County, in Room E 10 at 7:00 p.m. 

Students taking the course for credit hear lectures, watch films and participate in field trips that help them better understand the rich history of coal in the state, but all lectures are free and open to the public.

The lecture series will continue on March 4 with singer/songwriter Kate Long as she performs Songs of the Coalfields.  April 1, National Park Service Interpretive Ranger, Billy Strasser, will discuss the recent work the New River Gorge National River has completed in the town of Nuttallburg in the lecture Nuttalburg: Then and Now

The series will conclude on May 6 when Gordon Simmons, historian and Marshall University Instructor, will explore the culture of resistance in coal miners.  The Miner’s Freedom considers the history of coal miners and their ability to exert some control in the workforce, despite the autocracy of the coal camps.