Lynch coal mine open again

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Mine Portal 31 in Harlan County was shut down over 40 years ago, but its lights are now back on.

At one time, Lynch produced the most coal in the country, and this mine portal was the "cadillac of coal companies". But for the past 40 years, the mine was silent.

Now it's re-opening as an exhibit and a tribute to what the mine and town once was.

"It's an exciting time because we feel like many people will want to come back to see where their fathers and grandfathers and brothers worked," Bobbie Gothard of Kentucky Coal Museum said.

"Something it meant to go to school here, to grow up with family here, and to work in the coal mine," SKCTC President Bruce Ayers said.

The tri-city area of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch was part of the booming coal industry. Even though some mines in the area are shut down, the coal towns are still preserved. Now the area wants to capitalize on this.

Officials in Lynch hope this old coal mine will become a gold mine.

"We hope it will increase our tourism activity in the tri-city area and we hope to see new jobs with the portal opening," Gothard said.

The mine exhibit is a big part in an effort to give visitors the whole miner experience.

"We think with this, the infrastructure could be put in place and we can bring tourists here and keep them here, which is vitally important," Ayers said.

Area officials are optimistic this unique experience will help diversify the economy and help an area they love prosper once again. Officials estimate it cost about $2.5 million to re-open the plant.

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