Sitting near Kayford Mountain, the Stanley Heirs Park used to be the lowest point (a saddle pass) in a range of West Virginia mountains. Now, it’s the highest.
This is because the large mountains near Kayford have been blown off by mountaintop removal mining. A man named Larry Gibson turned the site into a land trust held by family members so that it could be saved from surface mining. From the campsite, you can see huge mountaintop removal sites and reclamation zones.
Local guide Junior Walk, an activist and environmental writer who works through Friends of Mountains and Coal River Mountain Watch, used to work as a security guard for an energy company that practiced “surface mining” but one day found he couldn’t take it any more. Some locals didn’t take kindly to his exposure of the harmful effects of mining, and their pushback can be seen in the bullet holes that dot campers around the campsite.