In June 1986 I left my home in West Virginia and moved south in search of a better life. The future of my job selling truck parts in northern West Virginia looked bleak because of a downturn in coal mining. I was very fortunate to be able to fulfill the dream I had as a young man. This dream, of being a photographer began in the jungles of Vietnam where I purchased my first camera. This dream, which was postponed for the first 40 years of my life because life happened. This dream, began to take shape in the swamps of Louisiana where I began my photography career with a new life and new family.

Lost on the Road to Oblivion, The Vanishing Beauty of Coal Country is a home coming for me and my search for truth. Torn between my coal mining family roots and saving the mountains I love, I find myself struggling between the need for jobs and the protection of an ecosystem that is being destroyed in the name of corporate profits.

This project is not an attack on the coal industry but is only an attempt to expose the devastating mining practice of mountain top removal that has only one purpose, maximizing profits. Coal still plays a vital role in today's economy and will continue to be an import source of fuel until renewable forms of energy are developed.

I prefer a more non-confrontational form of environmental activism, and for that reason I choose to focus on the beauty of coal country rather than just devastation. I prefer to focus on what will be lost, rather than what has been lost. This project is intended to be a wake-up call for our elected officials and those still living in coal country to realize that coal is not a renewable energy source and one day it will be mined out and the coal companies will move on like Carpetbaggers in the night.

By showing what happens to old coal towns after the mines have shut down I hope to make people realize that the time to begin planning for a future beyond coal is now. If the people of coal country choose to ignore the past, then history will repeat itself and the only export they will have in the near future will be their own children, leaving in search of a better life.