WINDROCK MOUNTAIN—Today, it’s home to giant wind turbines that tower high above the Tennessee Valley and off-road vehicles that race up and down its gravel roads and steep slopes.
But 50 years ago or more, this mountain a few miles north of Oliver Springs was home to as many as 700 coal miners and their families. The mines have been closed for decades, but the memories have lived on, mostly in fond recollections and old black-and-white photos.
Now volunteers are taking action to help preserve the history of the miners and their families. As part of that effort, they unveiled a Windrock Coal Miners Memorial wall on Saturday. It includes the names of more than 1,000 miners who once worked on the mountain.
The red brick-and-granite wall has been under construction for about six months, and several hundred people turned out for Saturday’s dedication ceremony at Lower Windrock at the end of Windrock Road, about three miles from downtown Oliver Springs. Some wept softly as they gently caressed the names of their loved ones on the memorial wall. Others proudly posed for pictures. It was an important day for many.
“It’s one of the greatest things that’s every happened to me, to see this,” said Carl Lively, 91, who started working in the mines on Windrock Mountain in 1939 at the age of 16. “We’re happy as we can be today.” [Read more…]