New Website Seeks Memories of Eastern Kentucky Coal Camps

A new project at the University of Kentucky is trying to document the state’s eastern coal camps, before memories of the area are lost forever.

The Coal Camp Documentary Project is a website that’s seeking to collect memories and photographs of the numerous coal camps that once existed in Eastern Kentucky. Some are still there, but many have been abandoned or demolished.

Shane Barton at the University of Kentucky’s Appalachian Center said there’s currently no repository for documents and photos from the state’s coal camps, but these memories are an important—and rapidly disappearing—part of Kentucky’s history.

“Many times there are kind of negative connotations with the coal camps of the past, especially with the imagery that we’re used to,” Barton said. “These communities really helped shape Kentucky and the landscape and really kind of set the foundation for America’s industrial revolution.

“They were multi-cultural, they were multi-lingual, and they contributed to the Appalachian identity in many ways,” he said.

Barton said the site will serve as a permanent online repository of the memories, and could also be useful to academics studying the region. People can submit stories, documents and photographs directly from the project’s website for inclusion, and can search coal camps by name or county. Click here to check out the website.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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