restricted access Reflections On Mountaintop Mining As Industrial Heritage


There is a growing interest worldwide in preserving and promoting industrial heritage as cultural landscape resources. This is proven by the increasing number of inscribed properties of this specific typology in the UNESCO World Heritage List. These sites' landscapes are sometimes the result of mining activities, and all of them are considered as "Cultural Landscapes," i.e., as the manifestations of the interaction between humankind and its natural environment over a clearly defined geo-cultural region. They are usually clusters of archaeological remains of large-scale mines, working sites, transport lines, and mining settlements.

Thinking about what has been happening in the Appalachian region since the late 1960s with the practice of mountaintop mining (MTM)—one of the most common forms of coal mining in the Central Appalachian ecoregion—one might, paradoxically, suppose that the entire region could become a world heritage site as one of the most representative testimonies of the era that, according to Crutzen, we entered at the end of the eighteenth century: the Anthropocene era.

This paper presents the case of MTM and its impacts on the landscape and explores the theoretical framework for its consideration as industrial heritage within the design disciplines.