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Six and a half years go, James and Virginia Bailey went to a meeting on the proposed permit for White Flame Energy's mountaintop mine. It would be coming over the mountain to Ragland from Varney. Since they live at the end of the hollow, closest to the valley fill, they were concerned.
Since then, James has taken reporters and visitors to see the valley fill in progress--even shot and killed a rattlesnake that popped up in their path one day.
A valley fill looms above Ragland.
For years, the Baileys' house had been shaken by the blasts. Recently, they joined a lawsuit over blasting from the mines. And all those years they worried about washouts--both from the valley fill and the hillside of old slate just behind their house.
The washout came on Memorial Day--but not from either of the worrisome places. Earth slid from near an old mine road, down the hill by the stream near their home --and onto the road out of the hollow --blocking it for several days.
It took many phone calls, but finally a DEP inspector arrived and ordered the mine to clean up the mess. In fact, he told Mrs. Bailey that it was one of the worst slides he had seen. On Thursday, June 3, bulldozers and loaders were working on the hill above the community.
Runoff came down the mountain (left) and into the stream and the road (below)
About three miles above Ragland, just before the road heads up over the mountain to Cow Creek, there was a big washout up a hollow that heads over the mountain towards Pie on Route 52. Arch Coal's Mingo Logan has a mountaintop removal mine on this part of the mountains. But Bill Endicott, who lives in a new house near the mouth of the hollow, didn't blame the mine. It was the recent logging, he said.
"They make the mines put it back," Endicott said. "Don't make timbering."
"It's the first time flooding ever done this hollow," he added.
Washout near the end of the hollow across from Bill Endicott's house.