Solving abandoned mine mysteries

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - In Hollywood, abandoned mines create adventure worthy of Indiana Jones: Heroes escape them just before towering explosions, treasures are buried deep in their dark caverns and villains are trapped beneath their crumbling walls.

The pull to explore a real-life version can be powerful, especially for young thrill-seekers.

Steve Dungan's job is to bring those people back to reality.

The fact is, deteriorating coalfields often produce dangerous landslides and water-filled pits and leave behind gaping mineshafts, unsound equipment and unsafe buildings.

As one of two appraisers with the state's Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, the 58-year-old Dungan provides the person-to-person link in the division's mission to repurpose the unused lands while protecting the public from health and safety hazards.

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