The road to Cumberland, Kentucky is all switchbacks, the asphalt snaking up and down Pine Mountain on the western flank of the lush Appalachian Mountains. My students and I had driven this road many times during the weeks we traveled to the small coal mining town to make photographs, but this time we stopped near the peak. And we watched.
In the valley below us, great machines were moving earth and stone—building more access roads for the coal trucks. To the west we saw a barren bulge in the landscape—once a great mountain, now it was shaved flattop by dynamite. I cautiously made pictures as the sun rose, lighting up the morning fog that was boiling in the valleys.
Since that moment