McDowell County, West Virginia is one of the poorest counties in the nation.
The population of McDowell County was over 100,000 during the 1950s when coal was king. Although McDowell County remains a top producer of coal, 70,000 jobs were lost in the 1970s and later due to reduced demand for coal used in the steel industry coupled with increased mechanization. Ironically, more than half of the electricity produced in the US is generated from coal, and more coal has been mined in McDowell County than any other county in West Virginia.
Now, the 18,456 people remaining here face formidable obstacles.
To understand some of the serious challenges we are here to address, see the February 2015 PBS special “The First 1000 Days.”
See the June 2013 New York Times video:
Saturday afternoon in Welch (1946)
Friday evening in Welch (2013)