No. 3061, Mingo County, WV

Photos of Mingo County, WV, which is ranked by the New York Times among the hundred hardest places to live in America.

For me, there is something unmistakably comforting about the Appalachian Mountains. I’ve probably written about this before, but I find it to be such an overwhelming feeling that I’ll go ahead and repeat myself.

In West Virginia, and in parts of Eastern Kentucky, the weather feels as if it is permanently drizzly, with thick fog and everything tinted just a little bit grey. It’s as if the mist and the mountains are working in conjunction to form a shroud, tucking little towns like Williamson into the hills– isolating them and protecting them.

The comfort in Mingo County’s isolation is double-edged though. As sweet and private and safe as it feels, its loneliness has also slowed economic development. Mingo County, like much of Appalachia, has relied on coal as its main industry for the better part of the last century. As coal usage has declined and safety and environmental regulations have changed, there has been little to incentivize new industries to come in and fill the gap left behind.

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