What If Coal Miners Ran The Country?

I’m a lifelong resident of Wyoming County, but I’ve never been inside a coal mine. I want to though. I hope to get to take a tour of one someday. My twin brother has been a coal miner for 33 years. My son and both my son-in-laws are coal miners. So when we have family gatherings, I’m sort of the odd man out.

Coal miners are unique people. Police officers have a fraternal organization, teachers have federations, and many occupations have associations. But coal miners, they have a nation….. the coal mining nation. They have their own language. With scoops, buggies, shuttle cars, tipples and cribs, they speak a language that only another coal miner can understand. They are curtain hangers, rock dusters, roof bolters and fire bosses. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or what season of the year, the scenery is still the same for them.

Coal miners mine coal…… all the time. They mine coal at the restaurant, they mine coal at the ball game, they mine coal before church, and after church. Can I get an ” amen” from the wives and children? The retired coal miner can mine coal with the red hat, the surface miner can mine coal with the underground miner. I’m telling you, it’s a nation all it’s own. Only a coal miner can buy a $50,000 truck and before he gets it home have it detailed with a silhouette of a miner and write “I Dig Coal” on it. Why? Because he’s a patriot of the coal mining nation. He loves his nation and is proud to proclaim it. There are many good occupations within our area, but I’ll have to admit I’ve never seen a natural gas worker’s personal vehicle have a sign on it that says “I supply gas”. Or a lawyer’s car say “I litigate”.

Coal miners are outstanding citizens. They’re volunteer firemen, little league coaches, deacons and sometimes even pastors of churches. They’re on the city council, members of the National Guard and supporters of many community functions. Coal miners are hunters, fishermen, ATV riders and boaters on the lake. They’re golfers, softball players, gardeners, voters and much, much more. They’re good neighbors. Sadly, everybody knows who the drug dealer is in their community, but everybody knows who the coal miner is too. They are the one who will help you get that new refrigerator through the door, or come pick you up when your car breaks down and even try to help you fix it. But when it comes to their national business, if your not one of them, your a foreigner.

Coal miners run their nation quite efficiently. So I was wondering, how would they do running ours? If you put a republican and democrat official in a room together within 5 minutes they would come out and for 3 weeks tell you how it is impossible for them to work together. If you put a union and non-union coal miner on a section together, before the shift was over they would find a way to mine tons of coal. Our national officials compete to see who can make the other look like the bad guy in a stalled system. Coal miners compete from shift to shift to see who can produce the most coal and who has the least down time. Our leaders will hold summits to see how they can outwit the other side and push their agenda. Coal miners have safety meetings before each shift so they can make sure everyone is on the same page and the workforce works safely and efficiently. When there are obstacles, politicians place blame, coal miners push through them or blast them out of their way. While the national officials hold their extravagant expensive luncheons, the coal miner packs his lunch in a bucket and eats it right in the middle of the mine.

Gone are the days of the stereotype of the old dumb coal miner. With new technology and regulations, you have to be intelligent to be a coal miner. You could take the brightest rocket scientist and the smartest brain surgeon and put them in a coal mine today and they would be lost. It’s not a matter of a pick and shovel and watch out for a rock to fall. Today’s coal miner must pay attention to detail. They deal with computerized and high voltage equipment. They have to understand ventilation and air flow. They have to be aware of gas readings and oxygen levels. They must be educated on the signs of danger and how to protect themselves from it. They have detailed plans for everything and they’re responsible to know them.

No need to tell readers of this article how important coal mining is to southern West Virginia. And if you’ll notice, many other areas of the nation are struggling economically because of job loss. But our coal miners are keeping the lights on here. They’re a big reason why our convenience stores, our restaurants, our furniture and hardware stores and our car dealerships keep going. There are government officials and agencies who are determined to put an end to coal mining. But the coal miner will not be deterred. The coal mining nation will continue to enter that shaft and bring power to our nation.

So what if the coal miners ran the country? They’re great citizens so why couldn’t they be great leaders? They pay attention to detail and formulate plans, so maybe they could formulate a great strategy for us. I say give them a chance. But my guess is they’ll decline, they have their own nation to run.



  1. Vicki Bailey

    I have liked everything I have read that Dean has wrote…but this is one of my favorites! Thanks Dean for remembering our coal miners!

  2. Susan Brown

    Thank you Dean for what you have written. This reminds me of my grandpa, dad and my brother. My favorite.

  3. Maria Moles

    Great article, Dean!

  4. Kris Dixon

    Right on man. Very nice article!

  5. Darlene Richie

    Great article Dean! I will have to watch for future articles!

  6. I love this, Dean! I’m loving all the posts! I hope you’re well, sir.

  7. Darlene Bailey

    Thank you for the wonderful article you wrote,really enjoyed reading it

  8. Shirley Hamrick

    I was raised the Daughter, granddaughter and Niece of coal miners. My Dad, Mom and my Grandmother(dad’s mom) and My grandpa(Mom’s dad) as well as many uncles were all miners. My husband is a miner now. I have read alot of articles on the subject but I have to say this one hit the nail on the head. Wonderful!!

    • Thank you so much, and thank you for visiting my blog. The response to this article has proven to me once again that coal mining families are the backbone of our nation.

  9. Marcy Seddens

    A very good article sir… My Dad was a coal miner from age 15 till he was 65… A tough job, but you are right, they are in a league of their own… We lived in Nicholas County, West Virginia… I will watch for more articles… Thanks… Have a great year…

  10. Elizabeth Atwell

    Thanks for the post. Just about all the brothers, sons, nephews, and cousins are coalminers in our family, so we hear all kinds of mining stories. Love it too. I lost my husband to black lung and my nephew Adam Morgan in the UBB mines accident. Our lives are very much touched by Coal Miners.

  11. My name is Myrtle Murray and I live in Middlesboro KY.. My husband has worked in the coal mines for over 30 year and my son has been working in the mines for over 8 years. My Father and my brother in law both worked in the mines for many years, so I understand all the coal mining lingo, and it is always interesting to listen to the stories about mining and the antics that the miners pull on each other. There is a Brotherhood among the miners, it’s A bond that is unexplainable. I’ve witnessed it on many occasions, such as times when one of my husbands co workers would have a sickness or death in the family. I couldn’t tell you the times the workers would all pool their money, and take it to them, usually they just put it in an plain white envelope and hand it over to the ones in need. I’ve seen them rally around each other in times of death due to mining accidents, and go sit in hospital rooms to try and comfort their sick coworkers, weather it be form a mining accident, or if they were dying from cancer, Yes, they are a different breed, and if this Great Nation of ours were to ever be blessed to have an administration with the dignity and morals that most coal miners have, we wouldn’t be in the shape were in today.

  12. Shannon Slemp

    Absolutely hit the nail on the head. <<== proud WV coal miner's wife.

  13. Robert

    Very well stated about the pride our nations coal miners work, dedicated, hard working folks.

  14. Christina

    This is wonderful. IM. Proud wife of a WV Coal Miner. This made my morning it great to hear someone who has never been a Coal Miner understand the ways of this life and appreciATE WHAT THEY DO. COAL MINERS ARE ALSO A FAMILY THEY ARE THERE FOR THEIR FALLOW MINERS IN ANY SITUATION DOESN’T MATTER IF THEY KNOW THEM PERSONALLY. THANKS FOR SHARING .

  15. Hillboy

    My boss always says a good equipment operator is like a professional athlete. They have trained their whole adult life to be great at running their piece of equipment. You said it best. When you said they are not dummies. I am the chief engineer where i work and i get lost in the cab of a superior highwall miner or a d11 or a 993 loader. Coal miners are hard workers also.

  16. Alyce Argabright

    Thanks for recognizing some highly intelligent, honest,hard working men,who have really helped build our country!

  17. Savannah

    As the wife, daughter, stepdaughter, and grand-daughter of a coal miner, this is well said. These politicians do not understand that while they are living the high life, there are husbands, fathers, sons, and grandsons underneath a mountain, working like dogs to keep the lights on for the country. I agree that a coal miner would be the perfect person to lead the country. They know well of sacrifice and hard labor. They even do it without a complaint and all politicians do is complain! Love this article!

  18. Phyllis Reed

    Great article Dean!! I have 2 son in laws who work in the mine & a son who works outside a mine. Proud of our West Virginia Coal Miners!! WV Coal Keeps The Lights On!!

  19. Rocky Argabright

    Thanks Buddy you would make a good coal miner..

  20. Kim

    Great writing! My husband is a coal miner in ND and we are PROUD to keep the lights on, the electronics charged and that fancy hybrid charged also! Have a great day in coal country!

  21. Good morning Dean!

    I found this by accident, but was glad I did. It is very well written and of course makes me think about my dad. I was sitting in my comfortable chair in the office reading this while numerous coal miners are underground wet, dirty and not having enough room to stand in places. My dad did it for almost forty years until he died of black lung and cancer. He did it all for us and to meet our needs.



  22. Lisa Geisler

    I really enjoyed reading this. I didn’t realize until yesterday what a great writer you are. I’ll be watching for more. Have a great day!

  23. Jennifer Browning

    Nicely written! Should be published in print.

    • Thank you so much Jennifer. Actually it was printed last May in the Wyoming County Report, but I had some family members from out of state who ask me to start a blog so they could read my articles. I started it for about 20 people to read them. I had no idea it would get this kind of response. I’m overwhelmed and humbled. Thank you for taking the time to read them.

  24. Mary Jenkins

    Why, Dean Meadows, look at you. I loved this article!!!! Do you write on line or in a paper or where? I have so enjoyed reading this. My son, Josh, is now living here and working in the coal mines also. My grandson, Timmy, does too. You are so right, they have their own lingo and talk coal mines most of the time. I just noticed you have a blog. I would love to have access to it to read what you are writing. Please let me know what I need to do. Old friend, so nice to be privy to some of your thoughts again. 🙂

    • Thanks, Mary! It’s good to hear from you. I have an article in the Wyoming County Report usually two or three times a month. I post them on this blog as well. If you go to the home page of this blog and scroll down to the bottom of the page, there is a place to follow it by email. Type in your email address and you will be notified every time I put a new article on. Thanks for your interest!!!

  25. really enjoyed it we posted it at facebook.com/VOTECOAL

  26. Jo Sansevero

    That was great, we live in south eastern Utah coal country. Everything that is here is here because of coal. We understand what you are talking about. Good Job.

  27. Mark

    Proud to be a WV coal miner! I come from a long line of coal miners and have just started my own career underground several years ago. In my 30 years of working, I’ve done everything from drive a truck over the road to work in a poultry plant. I have to say that coal mining is the absolute best job I’ve ever had. We have a bond unlike any other I ‘ve ever experienced. I know my guys have my back… and I have theirs! Thank you so much for your post. I enjoyed reading it.

  28. Renee

    as the wife of a coal miner as well as coming from a minning family. I have lost a Uncle Teddy Gibson to a minning accident, my husbands uncle Bear Cook to a minning accident and My own brother Joe Cassell to a minning accident ~ its articles like this that let’s these guys know you appreciate what they do. It’s in their blood its what they LOVE to do and as a coal mininng family its something you are very proud of and all the while thankful for the days they come home safely & turn to God for strength on the days when one doesn’t.

  29. Tommy Fisher

    Thank you so much for such a well written article about our noble profession. I am a 34 year underground miner, son and grandson of miners and I have one son who works underground. I am originally from WV and worked in the mines 27 years there but currently work underground in Alabama, where my son works with me.. There is so much truth in your article, from the conversations to pride that we carry in our jobs. The one thing that stood out was how we proudly display our profession on our trucks, in our hats and shirts we wear. I have a deep passion for my chosen profession and I love writing poems about mining. btw, I was an MSHA inspector in Wyoming County in Pineville for 2 years. Great hardworking miners in that area. God bless you…..Thomas Fisher, Hueytown AL

    • Thank you, Mr. Fisher. My brother is a 30+ year veteran of the mining industry as well. The pride and professionalism of the coal mining nation is without comparison. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and comment on it.

  30. Thank you Dean I was a daughter of a coal miner Iam a retired woman coal miner of 29 years and was a wife of a coal minerv now hes deceased but coal mining has been a big part of my life I worked with your brother at US Steel I love for people to uphold our miners cause they do their job seriously. and they treat each other like family cause they spend so many hours togeather so if one has a problem they all worry about each other God bless all coal miners and obama needs to stay out of their business they will find out in the end they need our miners.

  31. Cheryl Clay

    It is nice to read an article that gives credit to the intelligence of the coal miner. They have a very difficult job under strenuous situations and go back day after day and do it all over again. I think anyone that lives in “coal country” should go underground at least once in their lifetime. You would definitely have a new appreciation for what these individuals provide to our nation.

  32. Roy and Cindy Payne

    Loved your writing. My husband and sons work in the mining industry. We cannot go to many places that my husband doesn’t run into another miner… and then the “mining talk” starts. There are no strangers among miners. Are you sure you are not a true miner…you sure know them well.Thanks for the kind words. From Cindy Payne

    • Thanks for the kind words Cindy. My twin brother, son, 2 sons-in-law, Pastor, Assistant Pastor and almost all of my friends are coal miners, so I’m about as close to being one as possible.

  33. Terry Matekovic

    That is a great set of of words! I am a third generation coal miner from the west side of the Mississippi. I am proud to tell people when they ask me what I did for a living. After 39 years I hung up my diggers and belt and and now doing a little relaxing. I always loved going to work in the mine everyday because even thought it was usually the same equipment being operated, new virgin ground was uncovered and the hopes of having a steady productive day and beating the other crew in tons was great.
    The underground coal miner could be one of the presidents ever, we know how to use the baling wire, improvise, manage the miner & bolter moves without putting people in harms way and saving time which makes the money and lets the miner buy that new truck.

    Thanks for your words of wisdon I apprieciate them

  34. Mike

    I am a fourth generation Coalminer, and I also work with your son. The entire time I was reading this I had a smile on my face, you couldn’t have been more spot on! It’s funny when I was a kid I’d here my dad, grandfather, and uncles mining coal and drinking coffee at the table. I always wanted to be part of that, and now I am! Mr. Meadows I sure did enjoy this one keep it going!

    • Thanks Mike, I appreciate you taking time to read my article and commenting on it it. I’m glad you liked it. I know what you mean about sitting around mining coal. That’s all Greg, my brother David, and my son-in-law Billy do when they get together.

  35. Carl Hutchens

    I used to work for your brother. Not a finer person have I known.

  36. This is one of my favorite articles you have written!!! You are a VERY wise man, proud to call you my Uncle

  37. Cody burgess

    That was good coach

  38. Glen Brooks

    That was a Great article .glad to know that they are people like you who speaks the truth about the mining industry . need more like you . may God Bless you.

  39. Susan Conklin

    Very good article!! Perfectly describes the coal miner! My dad was a coal miner, as well as my grandfather and uncles…my husband was a coal miner until recently when his mine was closed…I live in Southwestern Pennsylvania and mining is a way of life around here…it’s very sad what is happening with all the mine closures and dedicated miners losing their jobs…thank you for writing this article and letting every know what being a coal miner is all about…they are definitely a rare breed…I just hope they don’t become a dying breed!!

  40. angie evans

    I am a proud daughter, wife, sister, aunt, cousin, sister in law, grand daughter, friend, grandmother and mom of a coal miner, I love them all. I could not be prouder of my coal mining family and friends, I love to see full train cars or coal trucks because that means that someone is working. We have so many laid off miners but hopefully things will turn around for this country and the mines will pick back up. Some of my family lost their lives in the mines, It is away of life in West Virginia. I just hope that the war on coal ends soon and we as a coal mining state wins. Thanks for the article

  41. clinton hamilton

    great story

  42. Lynn

    Great read! Thank you for supporting our industry. Just in case you are really interested I could probably get you a surface coal mine tour in Wyoming!

  43. Patrick

    They don’t want coal miners running this country,the fact being heads would be rolling so fast you couldn’t them all,we’d do whats needed to be done for yrs and that’s clean house,same goes for Charleston too!!

  44. Linda Keaton

    My grandfather, my dad, my brothers, deceased husband, brothers in law , son and grand son were or are coal miners. I am proud to say I am a coal miners daughter. Raised in Wyoming County and loved it. Wish we had more coal miners in office.

  45. hazel

    this was a great article! enjoyed reading it from beginning to the end. im proud to say that I am a coal miners wife, mother and grandmother.

  46. Rhonda

    I loved this article
    I am a true coal miners daughter…my Mom, Dad, and both grandpa’s were coal miners
    I have never been in a mine either, but unlike you, I have no desire…Scary stuff
    My roots are in Wyoming and Boone county and this is so true….my mother is 71 and loves nothing more than mining coal from her recliner!😀(she was a shearer operater..sp?)

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