Photo, Print, Drawing Aerial view of sludge dam at Elk Run, West Virginia

About this Item

Aerial view of sludge dam at Elk Run, West Virginia
Contributor Names
Eiler, Lyntha Scott (Photographer)
Created / Published
October 26, 1995
Subject Headings
-  Fall
-  Mountaintop removal
-  October
-  Sludge ponds
-  Reclamation
-  Elk Run (W. Va.)
-  Mine waste disposal
-  Sludge dams
-  Photographs
-  Ethnography
-  West Virginia -- Boone County
-  West Virginia -- Boone County -- Sylvester
-  Event: Helicopter tour of Mountaintop Removal and Reclamation on Big Coal River watershed.
-  Through mountaintop removal and reclamation, the coal industry is introducing several new landforms to the coal fields. One of the introduced landforms is the "wet refuse impoundment," a structure designed to store the waste from coal preparation plants. At the Elk Run Preparation Plant in Sylvester, an A.T. Massey subsidiary, coal from surrounding mines is cleaned through a process called "flocculation," which separates ash from coal, making the coal lighter to ship and cleaner to burn. Federal clean air and water legislation prohibits the release of waste water from the cleaning process into streams. Coal companies therefore must store the waste water somewhere for treatment (known as "dewatering.") The solution is to store the "fine refuse" in large hollows behind impoundments made of the coarse refuse. These structures, which are hundreds of feet deep, are known locally as "sludge ponds." Sludge ponds in the project study area are located at Shumate's Branch, Marfork, and Elk Run. Elk Run is noted as a pivotal site in union history. It was at Elk Run that the A.T. Massey Coal Company established the first non-union mine in (check date), as part of a campaign to establish what E. Morgan Massey termed a "union-free climate for running coal." As we approached Elk Run, Benny Campbell commented, "This is A.T. Massey country here."
35 mm Color Slide
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1999/008: CRF-LE-C037-16
Source Collection
Coal River Folklife Collection (AFC 1999/008)
American Folklife Center
Digital Id
Online Format
IIIF Presentation Manifest
Manifest (JSON/LD)

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Credit line

Coal River Folklife Project collection (AFC 1999/008), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Eiler, Lyntha Scott. Aerial view of sludge dam at Elk Run, West Virginia. Boone County Sylvester West Virginia, 1995. Photograph.

APA citation style:

Eiler, L. S. (1995) Aerial view of sludge dam at Elk Run, West Virginia. Boone County Sylvester West Virginia, 1995. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Eiler, Lyntha Scott. Aerial view of sludge dam at Elk Run, West Virginia. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.