I had the opportunity to travel to Buffalo Creek last
fall with a few friends here in the office. We were
all less than two years old when those terrible events
of February 1972 unfolded, so we have no personal
accounts of the devastation wrought by the Pittston
Corporation, but we have all read about the terror
inflicted on that morning and we wanted to see for
ourselves where it all happened.
Of course, you can't drive to the dam site directly,
you have to cross over two ridges to get there. In
fact, the tipple was finally being dismantled all
these years later. Of the communities closest to the
impoundment, there is nothing. NOTHING. No one has
rebuilt, as if nothing of any import occurred there.
We actually talked with a man who had survived the
devastation. Frank Vanover was his name. He told us
of a sound he heard in a pile of debris that everyone
thought was an animal. Upon closer inspection, Frank
pulled a child from the muck and mire that was Buffalo
Creek, and that child lived. Ironically, Frank was
working as a security guard at the old tipple, keeping
an eye on the demolition equipment.
Everytime I hear a story about Buffalo Creek, I just
get angry. Angry that a corporation can get away with
murder. Angry that then-Governor Moore settled for
nothing. Angry that today overweight coal trucks are
killing our citizens and no one remembers that morning
in 1972 that should have changed the way we all view
the coal industry.