The Effects of Coal Mining, Visualized: Environmental Damage

  • Erik Calonius - Buttes, Mesas and Canyons Are Created after Coal Companies Strip Mine Land in Southeastern Ohio. Trapped Water Has Been Discolored by Acidity Off Route #800 1974
    Erik Calonius - Buttes, Mesas and Canyons Are Created after Coal Companies Strip Mine Land in Southeastern Ohio. Trapped Water Has Been Discolored by Acidity Off Route #800 1974
  • Jack Corn - Row of Mobile Homes near Madison, West Virginia, with Trash Thrown Along the Edge of the Creek 1974
    Jack Corn - Row of Mobile Homes near Madison, West Virginia, with Trash Thrown Along the Edge of the Creek 1974
  • Erik Calonius - View from the Interior of an Abandoned Farmhouse Across Land Strip Mined by Coal Companies Off Route #800. Near Edgewater Park, Ohio, and Barnesville 1974
    Erik Calonius - View from the Interior of an Abandoned Farmhouse Across Land Strip Mined by Coal Companies Off Route #800. Near Edgewater Park, Ohio, and Barnesville 1974
  • Erik Calonius - Lone Tree Struggles for Life Among Buttes Created by Coal Company Strip Mining Off Route #100 1974
    Erik Calonius - Lone Tree Struggles for Life Among Buttes Created by Coal Company Strip Mining Off Route #100 1974
  • Erik Calonius - Fisherman Makes A Catch in A Body of Water Left in A 20-Year-Old Strip Mining Pit Off Route #519 1974
    Erik Calonius - Fisherman Makes A Catch in A Body of Water Left in A 20-Year-Old Strip Mining Pit Off Route #519 1974
  • Erik Calonius - Strip Mined Land Erodes If Not Recontoured by the Coal Companies. Near New Athens, Ohio 1974
    Erik Calonius - Strip Mined Land Erodes If Not Recontoured by the Coal Companies. Near New Athens, Ohio 1974
  • Erik Calonius - Farmland Stripped by the Hanna Coal Company Off Route 100 near Morristown, Ohio, and Steubenville. A Dammed Stream Has Flooded Part of the Area, in Apparent Violation of State Law 1973
    Erik Calonius - Farmland Stripped by the Hanna Coal Company Off Route 100 near Morristown, Ohio, and Steubenville. A Dammed Stream Has Flooded Part of the Area, in Apparent Violation of State Law 1973
  • Erik Calonius - This House Off Route 250, Has Had Its Windows and Doors Knocked Out, Legally Qualifying It as Derelict. Now the Coal Company Is Stripping Around It 1973
    Erik Calonius - This House Off Route 250, Has Had Its Windows and Doors Knocked Out, Legally Qualifying It as Derelict. Now the Coal Company Is Stripping Around It 1973
  • Erik Calonius - Soil Leached and Discolored by Dumped Coal Slag near Cadiz Ohio 1974
    Erik Calonius - Soil Leached and Discolored by Dumped Coal Slag near Cadiz Ohio 1974
  • Erik Calonius - Soil Leached and Discolored by Dumped Coal Slag near Cadiz Ohio 1974
    Erik Calonius - Soil Leached and Discolored by Dumped Coal Slag near Cadiz Ohio 1974
  • Erik Calonius - Strip Mined Land Meets Farmland near the Intersection of Route #800 and Interstate 70 near Morristown, Ohio 1974
    Erik Calonius - Strip Mined Land Meets Farmland near the Intersection of Route #800 and Interstate 70 near Morristown, Ohio 1974
  • Erik Calonius - Strip Mining Coal Shovel Abandoned in A Field Where It Once Had Been Used 1974
    Erik Calonius - Strip Mining Coal Shovel Abandoned in A Field Where It Once Had Been Used 1974
  • Strip Mine Pit Filled with Water in an Apparent Violation of Ohio Law, NA 554814, LI 412-DA-12362 DOCUMERICA
    Strip Mine Pit Filled with Water in an Apparent Violation of Ohio Law, NA 554814, LI 412-DA-12362 DOCUMERICA

Between 1972 and 1974, an Environmental Protection Agency photography initiative called Documerica sought to capture areas of contemporary environmental concern. The photographs in this slideshow were taken primarily in the Appalachian regions of Ohio and West Virginia. They portray the landscapes altered by new surface mining techniques.

What do these images reveal about the environmental degradation associated with the shift to surface mining?

What do they obscure?

Citation: 
Environmental Protection Agency, DOCUMERICA: The Environmental Protection Agency's Program to Photographically Document Subjects of Environmental Concern, 1972-1977. Record Group 412: Records of the Environmental Protection Agency, 1944-2006.
Library Item date: 
1972