Coal Valley News
by Joanie Newman
Lindytown today looks more like a ghost town than the once rural community it was just months ago.
With windows and doors boarded up, the houses line the street – vacant and deserted.
With the exception, that is, of one family – the Richmonds.
Quinnie and Lawrence Richmond have decided to stay in the holler that has been their home for the past 63 years – come what may.
And what most likely will come is more blasting – and dust – and flying rocks, as the neighboring land is now controlled by two coal companies.
In front of the Richmond home, the land is owned by Horizon, a company contracted by Patriot Coal. Behind the house, Massey Coal Corporation’s mountain top removal mining operation is blasting their way ever closer to the couple’s home.
The Richmond’s yellow house appears in sharp contrast to the neighboring abandoned homes, whose owners sold to Massey Coal Corp. when presented with a list of five options.
“Most all of the people who sold moved or had someone else around here help them move. They didn’t hire a regular mover. They never hired a large truck to move.
“Everyone else has sold in the community; the exception being me and my son, who lives in the trailer right there, and I have another son who lives down the road,” Lawrence Richmond explained.
“When the land specialist came down from Massey Coal Corp., we were discussing it one day and he was telling me what all the options were, and I told him, ‘You know what you should do, fella? You should make up those options and put ‘em down on paper and make copies of them and give them to every individual in the community. That way, they know what is before them.’ He told me he had never thought of that. So the next time he came back around, he brought those options and there were five of them.”
Of those five options, Richmond says there were a few options available to those who decided not to sell.
“We’re all right here and we decided to stay,” Richmond says.
The land on which Richmond’s home stands is part of a 50-acre tract that once belonged to a woman the community members lovingly remember as “Ducky Ferrell.”
“She stated that the land was to be used – that the minerals and timber would be used for domestic use only,” Richmond says.
“Now, as to who it belongs to…most of the land now belongs to Massey Coal Corp., as the owners sold their homes. However, the coal companies have mined underneath on that side and the other side for years. That’s the reason why the creek is so dry out there. Right now at this period of time, it’s as dry as it can be,” Richmond says.
Families who can trace their lineage back several generations in Lindytown have pulled up roots and relocated.
“The bought the entire town of Lindytown out,” says one disgruntled resident, “And though I don’t have anything against mountain top mining, I think it’s terrible that Massey won’t allow families to go back in to get all of their belongings after they promised the families that they could. They said they were interested in the land only, and that if we could move our houses on our backs, we could take anything we wanted. Now, they’re telling us we can’t get our stuff out, and they’re calling the law on us when we do go to get our things out.”
One thing that is evident at Lindytown, is the numerous telephone and cable wires that have been cut.
A spokesperson for Massey Coal Corp. did not immediately return calls from the Coal Valley News regarding the complaints from former Lindytown community members.
According to Richmond, there is a guard who can occassionally be seen patrolling the area.
According to former residents, the guard is contracted by Massey Coal Corp., to patrol the area from potential looters, though some former residents have expressed concerns to the Coal Valley News that the guard, himself, has been collecting items from abandoned homes such as hardwood flooring and bath tubs.
The Coal Valley News was again unable to reach representatives at Massey Coal Corp. to either confirm or deny such allegations.