The Digital Journalist
Laura Wilson
In a coal mining valley on the western slope of Colorado, beautiful area of fruit orchards and streams, Avedon photographed at four tunnel mines. Most of the miners came from the small towns of Paonia and Somerset. Their families had lived in the valley for several generations. Brian Justice, a foreman at the Somerset Mine, said, “Miners pit themselves against the earth, like sailors going out to sea. They aren’t loyal to the company, they’re loyal to the coal.” The Tribble brothers were strong young miners in their twenties. They liked the challenge of mining, the dangers and the money. Only the week before, Dave Tibble told them, he had been buried alive for nineteen hours. He had been working a mile underground when the cave-in occurred. He was at the end of the tunnel; big machines cut the “face” where coal is cut. He clung to the cutting machine, finding pockets of air in and around it and waited until rescuers dug him out.