It took coal to fire industrial furnaces and boilers, fuel railroad engines, and  to produce iron, and it took coke to produce steel. It took coal to heat the homes of workers and their families. It was a hardy breed of individuals who labored in the coal mines to fuel the industrial development of our great nation, we owe them a debt of gratitude and respect for what they did for our nation.

Many men became coal miners because their fathers and grandfathers had been coal miners, either in the U.S. or in Europe before emigrating to the United States. The majority became coal miners because in most cases there were few other occupations available in the coal mining regions. While coal mining was a dangerous and thankless way to make a living, first generation immigrants from almost every European country found work in U.S. coal mines and thought themselves better off than they had been in Europe.
The miner who was able to survive rock falls, methane and coal dust explosions, underground fires, run-away coal cars, black lung and a myriad of other hazards might live to a ripe old age. The old miner on the left was still working after 51 years mining coal. The old miner on the right worked long enough to see his son and grandson working in the same mine with him.

Still working after 51 years in the coal mines
Three generations working in the same mine
Harry Fain - Wheelwright, Floyd County, KY
Motorman. Lejunior, Harlan County, KY
Jenkins, Letcher County, KY 1937
Jenkins, Letcher County, KY 1937
Kentucky coal miners
Miner - Consolidated Coal Co.
Jenkins, KY 
Mine No.32- Black Mnt. Lynch, KY 1950
Motormen - Benham, Harlan County