Disabled Coal Miner Says Park Service is Taking His Home

“I was there the night she had the heart attack” (J.C. Kelley, American Coal Miner, New River, 2005)

This interview was conducted in 2005 on New River Road in Hinton, West Virginia.  According to sources there,  the National Park Service at first told the residents that they would fix the road and wanted permission to do so, but that mandate was changed by creating “scenic parkway,” focusing on “land acquisition options for resource protection.” The residents fought but many gave up. Some passed away during the process.  Years later, many of the homes taken away from the original owners to “preserve the beauty of the river” lie in disrepair and much of the property has been resold and subsequently redeveloped by others.



INTERVIEWER: What do you think is going to happen?

JC KELLEY: Well, you can’t fight city hall. They’ll eventually take it away from you because they got more time and money than we got. Just like uh, just like uh Doug Talbert says that we can wait ’til some of the people dies, and which they have.

INTERVIEWER: Have people gotten sick over this, has this been hard on people?

JC KELLEY: (TALKS OVER) Yes. I know of one lady that it killed. It killed one lady.

INTERVIEWER: Who was that?

JC KELLEY: Uh it killed uh, uh–

INTERVIEWER: Was that Mabel?

JC KELLEY: Mabel Flannigan’s the one it killed. I was there the night she had the heart attack when she seen the picture.

INTERVIEWER: What picture?

JC KELLEY: Of uh, the one they had computerized for her and had her home gone. Where it took her home away from her right up here. And she said that night that she would uh die in her house before she’d let them take it, and she, they had to force her to go to the doctor and to the store and stuff. She would not leave her home. And she died right there in her house.


JC KELLEY: I was there the night she had the heart attack. I was there the night she got sick.