Yes! Magazine

A guard tower at the United States Penitentiary, Big Sandy, stands as a sentinel along Kentucky Route 3 in Martin County.
Roger May / For Yes! Magazine

Big Sandy hides on a big hill. If you’re not looking for the federal prison, you’ll miss it easily. At first, all that can be seen above the soaring Kentucky cliffs, jagged granite dotted with green scruff, are lights. They look like the lights for a high school football field, or maybe a mall. Then the guard towers loom into view. You can’t see the razor wire from the road.

Appalachia’s Deep History Of Resistance

Sep 27, 2019
Becky Crabtree sits chained in her 1971 Ford Pinto, suspended over a trench at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site on her property in Monroe County, W.Va..
Appalachians Against Pipelines

When a group of Kentucky miners decided to block a coal-laden train from leaving a bankrupt mine in July, they weren’t just laying claim to missing paychecks.

The miners in Harlan County won attention across the United States for their willingness to put their bodies on the line for their beliefs. In doing so, they’re invoking the long-entrenched spirit of civil disobedience and direct action in the Appalachian Mountains. The mine wars of the early 20th century led to the rise of American unions in the 1930s and 1940s, but it’s not just coal miners who have laid claim to a history of activism.