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  • This is a desolate place, Mr. Richmond tells me.

    And, by that, he means: his home.

    It is a place of boarded up houses, letters and numbers scrawled on their walls. A place of overgrown gardens, and the detritus of living rooms visible through front doors standing wide open. A place held by mountains, and threatened by the riches they contain.

    Welcome to Lindytown, West Virginia.

    For more than three decades, Mr. Richmond worked as an underground coal miner. Mining families made their homes here. Bu the reason so much of Lindytown now stands empty is also coal.

    Mr. Richmond could tell you stories of neighbors leaving. They were bought out by the coal company, which had decided the most efficient way to get at the seams embedded in the nearby mountains was to blast it out. Not so safe, having people living in the valley directly beneath.

    But Mr. Richmond has stayed put. His wife, Quinny, points out the window of the kitchen she's painted a bright, sunny yellow. I can't see what she's pointing at because it's at the top of the slope that rises steeply, just past her house. But even though we can't see it, we know it's there: a giant boulder, perched on the ridge above. In a place that sustains daily blasts of dynamite, that boulder occupies a lot of Quinny's thoughts.

    Mr. Richmond says they will not relinquish their land, their home since the 1940s.

    And so, only a few weeks after I spoke with him, Mr. Richmond got his wish: to live and die in Lindytown. He passed away on August 16, 2010, just months shy of his 86th birthday. He was still a resident of Lindytown. Perhaps one of its last.

    Note: This interview was conducted for State of the Re:Union's Appalachia episode. (http://stateofthereunion.com/home/season-2/appalachia)
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