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Coal Culture: How the Industry Formed a Culture and Where Its Future Is Headed

Coal has been used for heat since the time of the caveman, and for centuries, its power has fueled the United States. But as we toured the coalfields of America’s northeast, we found that the industry itself created a unique culture among the brave people who dare to walk beneath the earth to power our lives above ground.

Where is this culture now, as the demand for coal declines? And more importantly, where is its future?

Curtis Burton speaks to Kay
Curtis Burton (L), a coal miner of 18 years, remembers to pay his respects to the miners who went before him and gave his work today the safety he needs to return home to his family after work every day. He speaks to NTD host Kay Rubacek at a memorial for coal miners in Pennsylvania in an episode of Life and Times. (Oliver Trey/Screenshot via NTD)
Coal miner Curtis Burton
Curtis Burton, a coal miner of 18 years, visits a memorial for coal miners in Pennsylvania in an episode of Life and Times. (Oliver Trey/Screenshot via NTD)
Tour of the No. 9 Coal Mine
Zachary Petroski, the president of Panther Creek Valley Foundation, a mine electrician, and a tour guide for the oldest coal mine in the United States that is open to the public to tour, takes NTD host Kay Rubacek on a tour of the No. 9 Coal Mine in Lansford, Pa., in an episode of Life and Times. (Oliver Trey/Screenshot via NTD)
Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers Association
Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers Association, rebel-rouser, and gifted orator, whose passionate speeches have inspired miners throughout the nation to take action to protect their rights at work, speaks at the headquarters of the United Mine Workers Association in an episode of Life and Times. (Oliver Trey/Screenshot via NTD)

Hosted by award-winning documentary filmmaker and author Kay Rubacek, Life & Times travels the nation to bring you the hopeful stories behind the biggest news of today.

Life & Times is an NTD show available on YouTube and NTD website. It also airs on cable on NTD America. Find out where you can watch us on TV.