18 spellbinding pictures that tell the story of coal country's past and present.

Coal has been part of America's past for just about as long as there's been an America.

It was the energy source du jour for the Industrial Revolution. In the 1300s, some Native Americans used it for cooking fuel. And the first North American coal deposits may even predate the dinosaurs!

But if we're talking America the post-colonial country, then nowhere was it more important than in the Appalachian Mountains, in places like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.


Unfortunately, what coal mining looked like back then and what coal mining looks like now are stunningly different. According a new study, coal mining is actually changing the entire landscape of Appalachia.

So let's jump in the Wayback Machine to 1930s Appalachia and see what things were like (and how things have changed for the better and worse) in 18 pictures:

1. Everyone looked dapper as hell back in 1935.


Sunday, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

2. Including this ridiculously photogenic schoolteacher.

Schoolteacher in Red House, West Virginia, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

3. Who may have actually taught in this somewhat photogenic classroom.

School in Red House, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

4. Check out the awesome kid in the front. Respect.

Schoolchildren of Omar, West Virginia. Date unknown. Image from The New York Public Library.

Unfortunately, the kids in this picture and the one above it probably wouldn't have been seen in the same classroom. Segregation was still very much a thing in the '30s, which meant that many public spaces, including schools, were divided by race. Things would largely remain this way until the mid-1960s.

5. Outside of school and work, people went to the movies – which cost a dime.

Movie theater in Omar, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

6. They entertained themselves by playing music.

Musicians in Maynardville, Tennessee, 1935. Image from Ben Shahn/Wikimedia Commons.

Appalachia is home to some of America's richest musical traditions, including country and bluegrass.

7. They even "pirated" football games.

Men watching football in Star City, West Virginia, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

If by "pirated" you mean "watched through a fence while nobody was looking."

8. This is Williamson, West Virginia, in 1935.

Image from The New York Pubic Library.

It's changed a lot since then.

9. This is Williamson in 2008.

Image from Flo Night/Wikimedia Commons.

Williamson is home to the Williamson Rail Yard, which serviced the many coal mines in the region.

10. Coal miners worked long hours in dark, dangerous mines.

Coal miners in Kentucky, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

11. Coal mining was tough, dangerous work.

Slate pickers separating the coal from rock in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Date unknown. Image from The New York Public Library.

Coal mining required workers to do backbreaking labor in cramped conditions, often deep underground.

12. But it was honorable work and, for many people, the best way to provide for their families.

A coal miner with his family in 1938. Image from The New York Public Library.

13. As much respect as we have for coal miners of the past, it can be hard to support the industry today. Because in 1935, coal mining looked like this:

Image from The New York Public Library.

14. But now, coal mining looks like this:

GIF from Smithsonian Channel/YouTube.

See how flat that is? A lot of modern coal companies use a technique known as mountaintop removal mining to get at the remaining coal seams tucked deep into the mountains.

15. Mountaintop removal mining is exactly what it sounds like: blasting away the entire top of a mountain to get to the coal below.

Image from ilovemountains.org/Flickr.

This practice is widespread throughout coal country. In fact, a new study found that the area of study became 40% flatter after mountaintop removal mining. This has a lot of people worried about the effects on the geology and ecosystems in the area.

"Even if we stopped mountaintop mining tomorrow, what kind of landscape is going to be left behind?" said study author Emily S. Bernhardt.

16. Even more worrisome is what mountaintop removal mining may be doing to the water.

Image from ilovemountains.org/Flickr.

Excess rock and refuse often ends up dumped in gigantic piles in the valleys and streams below the mountain. Heavy metals and chemicals can leach out of the pile into the waterway, affecting any animals or people downstream.

17. The hardworking men and women who've done this job for generations deserve respect. But ... there's a better way.

Coal is an intimate part of Appalachia's history and the last thing we want to do is claim that it's not important. But Appalachia has a long history of renewables too. They've had hydroelectric power plants for over 100 years!

A wind farm in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Image from Jeff Kubina/Flickr.

Even though coal production has been falling in the last few years, many coal companies are indicating that they want to double down on mountaintop removal mining.

But now that we know how harmful coal mining can be for the environment and have the technology and wherewithal to do something different, we can and should be looking elsewhere for our electricity.

18. Then maybe, just maybe, we can leave the dangerous job of coal mining and its effects on the environment where they belong: in the past.

Coal miners in Williamson, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

Keep Reading Show less

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

Keep Reading Show less