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© 2019 Shanon R. Rice

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"It's in our blood" A Coal Miners Journey

by Shanon Rice

Filmmaker • Photographer 
 

As I was riding two miles into the inner darkness of an Eastern Kentucky mountain, I was thinking about what motivates these men to work their whole lives in a dark, dangerous environment where the ceiling is so low that they spend their days crawling on their hands and knees. I thought about Opie, a man with a degree in education who has never seen a classroom, and who has worked the mines for 30 years. I thought about his son, Opie Jr. a recent business graduate who forsakes the security of a cubicle to labor underground with his father. When asked why, he replied, “I guess it’s in our blood.”

 

There are very few people that could endure the life of a miner, what these men do every day to ensure our way of life. This project is to commemorate those men who work far below the mountain, out of sight from everyone, but their own. I have been honored to be able to spend a couple of years with these gentlemen. Every time I flip the switch on a light, get a drink out of the refrigerator, or do work on my computer, I picture “Opie” and his crew digging away at 30” coal on their hands and knees.