Maryland Mountain Dreams

Coal – The Forgotten Neighbor

In the News

It’s a problem that haunts almost every mountainous area on the globe. Mines from the past that just don’t go away…Not even when the mine operators do.

Frostburg — FROSTBURG — The Maryland Bureau of Mines is still cleaning up mines in Allegany and Garrett counties that operators walked away from 33 or more years ago.“And we will be doing that into the foreseeable future,” said Mike Garner, who heads up that effort for the state agency housed in Frostburg. “It’s an ongoing process.”Tucked up hollows and into hillsides and on ridges in Mountain Maryland are a variety of nasty and potentially nasty remnants of the search for coal. –  Bureau of Mines still cleaning up sites that coal operators left behind » Local News » Cumberland Times-News.

I don’t want to seem like I’m dumping on just the coal mine operators, either. In different parts of Appalachia it’s minerals of another kind and color that cause the same problems…Abandoned  shafts are a problem up and down the Appalachians, from gold shafts in Georgia to emerald and mica mines in North Carolina to the coal mines that dot this part of the mountains.

Abandoned mine lands (AMLs) present serious threats to human health and the environment. Addressing AML impacts is becoming increasingly important due to increased exposure to people and risks of accidents, injuries, and tort claims. There are estimates of as many as 500,000 abandoned mines in our nation. – via Abandoned Mine Lands.

It has only been in the last four decades that regulations have existed to try and put a stop to the problem of abandoned mines. But that hasn’t helped with the more than two centuries of damage the not so scrupulous among the mine owners have caused by walking away from their played out mines…

There are an estimated 100,000 abandoned mines throughout Appalachia (according to Davitt McAteer, Director of the Appalachian Institute and the Coal Impoundment Project, both atWheeling Jesuit University) – via Revisiting The Appalachian Coalfield.


  • The Abandoned Mine Lands Portal—a partnership that spans federal, state and local efforts, dedicated to raising awareness about abandoned mine lands. Abandoned mines generally include a range of mining impacts or features that may pose a threat to water quality, public safety, and/or the environment. For many abandoned mines, no financially viable responsible parties exist. AML programs work to eliminate or reduce the dangers to public health, safety, and the environment as a result of impacts related to abandoned mine lands. – via Abandoned Mine Lands.
  • Maryland Department of the Environment – There are a reported 9500 acres of unstable and unreclaimed abandoned mine lands in the coal region of Western Maryland.  It is the responsibility of the AML Section to prioritize these lands based upon health, safety, and environmental impacts as prescribed by the Federal guidelines.  The AML section reclaims these lands based upon their assigned priority. – via Coal Mining.
  • Stay Out! Stay Alive! – is a national public awareness campaign aimed at warning children and adults about the dangers of exploring and playing on active and abandoned mine sites. – via MSHA – Stay Out Stay Alive (SOSA) – Home Page.