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Coal mining in America's heartland | DW Documentary

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West Virginia, USA - under its wild mountain idyll hides the "black hell": A labyrinth of dark tunnels - hard life in a coal mine. [Online until: 15 August 2019] "Wild, wonderful West Virginia” - that’s how the small state nestled in the Appalachian Mountains bills itself. This documentary reports on the daily struggle facing local coal miners hoping for help from Donald Trump; a sheriff combating the opioid epidemic that has already claimed thousands of lives; and a Cherokee environmental activist whose efforts have earned her intimidation and threats. The whistle of a locomotive at the front of an old coal train, quiet winding roads, and hardly a highway to be found - that’s still the image that many have of West Virginia today. But beneath the forest-covered mountains lies a labyrinth of tunnels just one meter high, in which miners still spend their entire working days toiling in the dark on their hands and knees. The camera team accompanies a traditional coal mining family as they go about their day. Together with the family’s two sons, Scott and Steven Lockhart, the crew ventures into the mine. Conversations with the miners reveal why people who had been lifelong Democratic Party supporters are suddenly placing their hopes for the future in Donald Trump. But the documentary also ventures beyond the coal mines to uncover the lesser-known sides of this Appalachian state - from snake-handling Pentecostal churches to the bluegrass and mountain ballads of Alan Cathead Johnston. We also speak with Sheriff Martin West, who sued the country’s three biggest pharmaceutical makers for their role in the opioid epidemic that has swept the region. And we meet another person who has decided to fight back: Maria Gunnoe, a young Cherokee activist who has dared to take on the coal barons that are ravaging the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. _______ DW Documentary gives you knowledge beyond the headlines. Watch high-class documentaries from German broadcasters and international production companies. Meet intriguing people, travel to distant lands, get a look behind the complexities of daily life and build a deeper understanding of current affairs and global events. Subscribe and explore the world around you with DW Documentary. Subscribe to DW Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW39zufHfsuGgpLviKh297Q?sub_confirmation=1# For more documentaries visit: http://www.dw.com/en/tv/docfilm/s-3610 Instagram https://www.instagram.com/dwdocumentary/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dw.stories DW netiquette policy: http://www.dw.com/en/dws-netiquette-policy/a-5300954
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Text Comments (1832)
DW Documentary (9 months ago)
Este documental también está disponible en español / This documentary is also available in Spanish: https://youtu.be/7ktsd4ob8ZA
Kevin Napier (1 month ago)
There has to be a better way of life, and a better way to properly serve these folks than coal. I feel like they became their own worst enemy & liability by doing this documentary. There should be a way to build plants that make the coal cleaner. There has to be safety standards that are imposed as well. Safety first, then figure the next step.
Raxius (3 months ago)
Speak American!
Skoda130 (5 months ago)
@MrKelra they already HAVE a German page.
MrKelra (5 months ago)
What about German, liebe DEUTSCHE Welle?
Skoda130 (8 months ago)
The freedom of expression implies the right to insult!
The Jew Crew (3 days ago)
So this is why all west virginians are dumb
First name Last name (3 days ago)
This is why wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear energy, and other renewable energy sources are necessary for safety. These guys should find a safer job, and let the robots do this stuff. My chest goes stiff looking at them in those places.
gerald 413 (3 days ago)
May god bless these folks.
gerald 413 (3 days ago)
These are proud ppl. My grandparents were from Ky. Proud of their heritage and lifestyle. Often living off the land to grow crops. And coal mining for income. These ppl should be respected not looked down on. It would good if they had some respiratory protection. Coal ppl are good ppl too.
Filip (4 days ago)
i have huge respect for people that is working here, what a tuff job!
Ronald Schultenover (5 days ago)
This is very beautiful country
Benjamin Crom (6 days ago)
Damn...... I'll be going too work a little more grateful tomorrow.
Leo Rodriguez (7 days ago)
Pa would be proud 🤘
Shan Mawlong (7 days ago)
Great jobs men, I'm a coal miner in India, same 1meter high like yours.
freckledfuck (7 days ago)
all this tree hugging bullshit is gonna cost millions of people their careers and probably cause a depression
Jesse Owens (8 days ago)
The saddest thing is that some teenagers get paid more working at McDonald’s than these guys do. I have done hard labor before for jack-shit money. It’s a hard knock life. Respect.
Alex Fletcher (9 days ago)
Fortune 3 would help allot
Pablo Pulido (9 days ago)
Close down coal plants. These ppl can make as much money as they currently do by cleaning up plastic in the sea and selling it to be recycled. No sense only working for 10 years before getting black lung.
Andrew Ballard (11 days ago)
I think the snake church thing segment was far too long, there's a handful of people in there, it's hardly relevant. A mention of it's existence, and the laws relating to it elsewhere would have sufficed as a bit of strange-but-true indulgence.
8bitfrenzy (13 days ago)
I load sixteen ton and what do I get? Another day older and deeper in debt.
gondiamond (13 days ago)
People saying "Oh it would be too difficult to wear a respirator for even 30 minutes! I get sores!" and whatnot; I am sorry but I plain disagree. I sprayed carcinogenic chemicals for 8-12 hours a day, and had to wear a suit that felt like 10 garbage bags, and full gas mask the entire time. It sucks to wear a mask or respirator for an entire day, it really does, but it is definitely possible. Yea it gets expensive if you gotta replace chemical grade filters all the time, but if the companies cared at all about their worker's health, then they would at the very least pay for particle filters that they could replace or wash frequently. It is not impossible, it is not even difficult, the West Virginian government just makes it out to be, because they don't want to change.
S Bains (14 days ago)
I love the lady was a Molotov cocktail good thing she didn’t drop it
S Bains (14 days ago)
Work union Stay safe Live better
Daeway 445 (14 days ago)
I used to be a coal miner. It was a dangerous job having to deal with creepers and spiders every time
axmajpayne (15 days ago)
At 28:44, if she is worried about security, she should actually use the lock that is hanging there.
I just spent Memorial Day weekend driving around southwestern WV. spent a night in Welch, went to Coalwood; etc. Been to every other part of West Virginia but never seen depression and people so down and out hardly anywhere else in American, other than eastern KY, which is basically in the same boat as southern WV and the Mississippi River delta region and Native American reservations in Oklahoma.
Wondering IN NY (18 days ago)
West Virginia's representative doesn't seem to care maybe its time to choose different people or party.
Andrew Spears (18 days ago)
I built shields,pan lines
rlp230 (20 days ago)
Great documentary - more thorough and objective than a lot of shows on Appalachia coal mining. I'm keeping an open mind and doing my best to be empathetic. However, empathy started to break down towards the end when I realized how these people aren't just destroying the land and their health for themselves but also for future generations. These people would probably be fine with additional education and if they relocated, but because of their limited world view they refuse to do either and will kill themselves and their families for "king coal". In 21st century global economies, what do you do with people like this?
Geraxxx05 (21 days ago)
What did that snake church part had to do with the rest of the documentary?!?
Manjot Singh (21 days ago)
Bruh they really made coal from Minecraft into a real thing .
Bigus Dickus (21 days ago)
We have snake churches in southern Indiana
Robert Lopez (21 days ago)
Where’s MSHA?
Wye Explorer (22 days ago)
That was a profoundly illuminating documentary. Plenty to think about and act upon if we could. Mark
bandal494 (22 days ago)
The song in the start of the video is Neil Young dead man, ur welcome
Jerry Rosales (23 days ago)
Sad part is...trump dont give a flying fuck about these people. They praise and honor him but these people are just uneducated and uninformed
crs c (24 days ago)
these are the same communities that liberal bugmen comfortably living in their suburban bubbles will tell you are privileged
sigfan 45 (24 days ago)
I am so glad I don't have to do that anymore.
Stephen Chambers (25 days ago)
The people of West Virginia are getting a truly bad deal in life, and our government isn't doing anything to protect them. The only thing that needs to change is who they vote for. They need a governor who won't be bribed by the coal and oil industries. The time has come to help these people by not continuing the lie that coal is back and it is strong. Coal is dead in my eyes, and the sooner we do away with it and turn to renewable energy, the better. There is huge money in renewable energy that needs a strong country to bring it home to West Virginia and the entire nation.
Dustin Stafford (25 days ago)
Went from coal mining to deliverance real quick
Nathan Poirier (26 days ago)
big john- marty robbins
Gage109 (27 days ago)
Anyone else think they can move out of state ??? And get a better job
MsHambone3000 (27 days ago)
amazing how people still believe in the system which is extreme exploitation....simple ignorance of the power of the corporate world......extreme capitalism = extreme exploitation...this is the american life......these folks seem very nice, down to earth, etc but are simple "company people"
Chandler_RRage (28 days ago)
I hate to say it but I will most likely end up a coal miner, I’m not very bright and I struggle in school
Kiing Cobraaa (29 days ago)
Country roads take me home to a place where I'll get black lung
Cosimo Kramarawicz (1 month ago)
As sure as war kills indiscriminately so does coal mining.
ZachRULES1996 (1 month ago)
39:47 trump wouldn’t go to your house.
bob.Evans. (1 month ago)
Why are we so poor well lady saying your driving around a 50.000 dollar red truck i dont really think your poor miss
J (1 month ago)
J (1 month ago)
Jim The EDC Guy (1 month ago)
That poor snake.
Teejrocks83 (1 month ago)
Poor Snek :-(
Joe Breakwell (1 month ago)
I had a drug addiction but then I stood on a snake for the lord and I didn't use no more. What does this mean??
Joe Breakwell (1 month ago)
Poor snake
HunterVHunted (1 month ago)
West virginia mountain mama take me home country roads
History Geek777 (1 month ago)
Wheres that white privilege? Where are the costal elites supporting these? Instead of immigrants and degenerates, they need to pay for what they have done to the west
History Geek777 (1 month ago)
That church and that kind of worship is blasphemous
Alexios Hubbard (1 month ago)
I hate corporations but love capitalism
Cosimo Kramarawicz (1 month ago)
No wonder they all die of Opioids ! Even the snake is drugged.
Matti Suutarinen (1 month ago)
abrahamism is a great way to brainwash people.
cosgrove notts (1 month ago)
Lovely clean coal
Davidski (1 month ago)
Anyone else hear duelling banjo's playing softly in the back of their mind? Trump didn't work for his money, he was left with an inheritance from his father and has left a trail of bankrupt businesses in his wake, owning people left right and centre, many of them the working class Joe's who his companies purchased from and never paid the bills, leaving those hard workers in the shit and he is free to go on his merry way. Trump is in it for the money, the money he will make after he leaves office and has all that inside knowledge and contacts with major players who look after the money the government spends. He will make a shit load of money, the draft dodging piece of shit.
Joshuahj Farquharm. (1 month ago)
So I'd been through some thing similar,.I've used to work at a Chemical plant 6 twelves. Some times we'd do an eight on sunday to keep up on a production run...Pushin snow. Maybe a start at around $12 bucks an hour but our guys would Work. The over time pay is pretty good once you hit 20ish hours overtime. Then it goes down... When I had to do 60 hours a week minimum my wife would cry......we already had 2 kids.....I'd just take a shower, chug some beers, and eat dinner...then never sleep.....I was running on tops 4 hours of sleep then 12 hour shift 2 am until 2:30pm.....When my sched fliped 2pm until 2:30am it nearly got my family divorced. Even on double time I was make arounds $28 an hour. Its shitty. Dont kill yourself for it.;..
Tim Retter (1 month ago)
I admire these people's work ethics facing what has to be some of the hardest work in the whole country. I hate that they are taken advantage of so badly. With the pinkerton agents gone, the people of WV need to re-unionize and get paid what they deserve for this kind of work. It's amazing that the EPA protecting them from their land being destroyed is being ravaged by the same political party that they support; the same party that is destroying their union benefits and taking away their health care they so badly need.
Fluffyhead (1 month ago)
So the mining company’s didn’t like the regulations regarding protective wear and supporting the mine god knows what else no wonder lives have been lost.
Donal & Janet Vance (1 month ago)
Hard life pays for the good life! Also your in America use standard units of measurements or let someone else do this documentary. WV Coal miner proud!!!
Chris Brown (1 month ago)
take a shot every time someone says "you know"
Rob Anderson (1 month ago)
Coal miner and smokes, he isn't very smart. Kinda sad
EsotericOccultist (1 month ago)
We need more women in coal mines for the sake of equality.
austin harper (1 month ago)
Oh you don't force your religion on anybody? What about our money, and our pledge of allegiance, and the oath of truth that you must give to enter office. Ok
Charles Charlemagne (1 month ago)
Can't listen to a British accent talk about this region and these people, sorry.
clair mcintyre (1 month ago)
I know coal to them is life in West Virginia but to everywhere else it's like backing a dead horse to win the Kentucky Derby. Coal isn't as cheap as it's thought to be, it's pretty costly to extract with either dynamite or mining and there are many energy options that work way better. What West Virginia really needs is jobs that will sustain them long term and maybe the simple workable solution is using their unique traditions and culture as a selling point. Build an Appalachia historical tourism industry. It sounds iffy sure, but to that I say a) it's better than what they've got now and b) weird and rustic sell. Case in point People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on cheetos that look like celebrities. Come on West Virginia for the win!
Mark Yaske (1 month ago)
David Scott (1 month ago)
I was a coal miner and it really is hard to put on a dust mask but you don't worry about it and do your shift!! I did,wear one when I was going to shovel shield feet at long wall! Its,a tough job but pays great!!! Be,safe down there!!
LazySkull (1 month ago)
these people are going to have black lung by the time they're 40/50.
Lara O'neal (1 month ago)
Excellent documentary. Thx so much. I can’t believe how deceived they are about POTUS. Sad.
merica Washington (1 month ago)
God bless our miners maga
Papi Chulo (1 month ago)
Anyone else get a grill ad
THOMAS SODOMIZER (1 month ago)
They are good hardworking people but they are doomed if they think coal mining is the future. It does not matter how many lies Trump tells them. These coal plants are being retired left and right and right now there is only one sole new plant being built. Most utility Companies don't want the economic burden from the EPA and lawsuits from coal. They need to find away to bring some jobs back to these places. It can be done.
Charles Charlemagne (1 month ago)
who cares if its not the future...we still need coal miners. They still are going to do their job & be proud of it.
Doug Skillmore (1 month ago)
what an incredibly stupid industry.
merica Washington (1 month ago)
Do you use electricity dumbass
Frank Suarez (1 month ago)
Thank you coal miners for purifying my tap water. Tastes much better.
Fat and Hungover (1 month ago)
You should drink bleach Frank
Raphael F. (1 month ago)
why TF do they not have respirators / masks
Fat and Hungover (1 month ago)
Very hard to breath in for long periods especially while working hard, rub blisters on your face in under a hr expensive to change the filters on the reg cause company doesnt buy them.
avery blank (1 month ago)
Mountain top mining needs to go
avery blank (1 month ago)
Mad respect for the miners but that is no way to treat a snake!
Julie Erin (1 month ago)
They really need to reinvest in their economy. Perhaps make the state focus on recreational opportunities like Colorado by creating ski resorts, spa retreats etc., and as somebody mentioned on here, perhaps some farming operations.
Julie Erin (1 month ago)
I would never go to that "church".
metaphysicalgraffiti (19 hours ago)
Right? Christians are psycho. This is proof.
Hob Goblin (1 month ago)
But fear, who wouldn't? A dumb person, you are very smart Scott, do not let them trick you.
xzysyndrome (1 month ago)
So much white privilege. Black Lung, back breaking work, squirrel meat for dinner, poverty, opiates...death. Oh yeah. The privileged life.
rob b (1 month ago)
xzysyndrome white powa
Alan Horning (1 month ago)
I'm so tired of hearing about West Virginia being screwed! I'm willing to do whatever it takes to to help law enforcement and the good people there. By the way girl. Trump will never come help you or anyone there much less eat your food! Sorry for saying that but I do know the real Trump! And he's just like all the rest! He made promise to you but will never hold to it!!!! I've been on this Earth way to long but long enough to know what's going on with the truth in life! I'm a Vietnam veteran and was never welcome back home and now there is never going to be one cause was called a baby killer just no less than 9 days ago! This will never go away and I won't stop fighting. I had to go there but I will tell you I never killed children or a women! I could never live with myself if I did!!!!
Alan Horning (1 month ago)
You need some help girl! I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help you!! I'm an old Vietnam veteran but! Not even under estimate an old man's power!!!
Syle Funcan (1 month ago)
Got that moonshine in church lol. This video makes me love my state
Syle Funcan (1 month ago)
Our state is beautiful! You should come and check it out. The cities are where the problems are at in my opinion. The small country towns are amazing and the fishing in the mountains is indescribable
Michael Steven (1 month ago)
So nice to see a positive Trump doc..The liberals would never allow this production.
Christopher DeRei (1 month ago)
Something hot about mountain men .............
DonkeyLips McGee (1 month ago)
Trump didn't lie. Although temporary, he did revive the mining industry there. Needs the coal to make the steel. Needs the steel to make the weapons of war. Needs the weapons to fight useless wars for Israel. I believe it was vice that reported on Trump's call to increase military recruitment. It's probably all just a coincidence though.
Peter Nygren (1 month ago)
You think you got it bad, what about me then, I have to sit here and click Skip Ads 5 times. I'm the one dying!
perry reasch (1 month ago)
why do that not wear mask ???
dingle_mccringleberry (1 month ago)
These people need to get over themselves.
Carla Carson (1 month ago)
Blessings to the Coal Miner's
Nuclear Trinity (1 month ago)
I really like how you guys highlight the snake church lunatics as if that's how everyone there is.
Daisy445 (1 month ago)
Lol yeah there were like 5 people in there
GiDD (1 month ago)
12:46 the most important difference between their dumb religious beliefs and Islam. They don’t kill people who don’t believe. Islam does.
GiDD (1 month ago)
Imagine if someone snapped down there and killed everybody.
GiDD (1 month ago)
**Claustrophobia intensifies**
Doctor Kekkles (1 month ago)
Every man in my family before my father has died of black lung. I watched my grandfather, great uncle and uncle die of black lung. Its terrible. My father took off to the big city, did not wanna live that life.
Doctor Kekkles (1 month ago)
@dingle_mccringleberry the mines closed shortly after anyways. Go figure
dingle_mccringleberry (1 month ago)
smart man

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