From a benefactor of the never ending gift of coal

From a benefactor of the never ending gift of coal

So this is happening in front of my house right now…

53-foot flatbed carrying re-bar cannot make the turn across the culvert at the intersection of Big Elk and Goose Run Roads. The trailer’s rear wheels kept sliding closer to the creek in loose muddy soil. Our front yard is now torn up and the DOH caution signs over the creek are bent. Big Elk Road has been completely blocked for almost three hours. The driver is waiting for a wrecker out of Fairmont to physically pick up the back end of the trailer and move it over far enough to swing around the turn. Driver and truck are from Pennsylvania, never been up this road before. Driver said he was following the directions he was given, and knew the road was too narrow as soon as he turned onto it. But there is nowhere to turn around or back up once you get onto Big Elk.

This truck is delivering materials for R.G.Johnson Co., a contractor for Murray Energy’s (previously Consol) Robinson Run Coal Mine aka Harrison County Mine. Murray Energy has been constructing a new mine portal for the past year or so, and during that time much oversized and overweight truck traffic has been causing problems like this on Big Elk Road. I have repeatedly talked to the mine’s landman, reported incidents to the county sheriff and DOH, and encouraged neighbors to voice their concerns about road conditions and truck traffic. Yet it seems to be falling on deaf ears…

Today I am urging the driver and everyone else who comes upon the scene to explain to their bosses and the powers that be that this road is not suitable for trucks this size! I have reported the incident to Harrison County Sheriff and DOH. We will be seeking recompense for the property damage as well as a lost day of work…since we should be out doing our own job rather than monitoring road blockages.

Just thought y’all would like to know…Oh, and if anyone wants to call the Murray Energy land man, his name is Jamie Kuffner and his cell phone # is 304-406-8229. The more complaints, the better, methinks…
In solidarity,

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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