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Combating Mountaintop RemovalNew Directions in the Fight against Big Coal$
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Bryan T. McNeil

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036439

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036439.001.0001

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Conclusion: John Henry, Efficiency, and Community

Conclusion: John Henry, Efficiency, and Community

(p.157) Conclusion: John Henry, Efficiency, and Community
Combating Mountaintop Removal

Bryan T. McNeil

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the origin of the John Henry legend and how it has been attributed to West Virginia around the time railroads expanded into the new frontier, seeking the region's rich raw materials. Though there are many interpretations of the legend, John Henry still serves as a parable for the shift to modern industrial society and its ramifications. The social struggles represented by the conflict over mountaintop removal belong not to John Henry's era, but to a subsequent social shift that West Virginians and Americans in general struggled with at the turn of the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, the relationships between corporate efficiency and community bonds are similar enough to warrant revisiting the parable.

Keywords:   John Henry legend, West Virginia, modern industrial society, mountaintop removal, social struggles, corporate efficiency, community bonds

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