CFAES Give Today

School of Environment and Natural Resources


EPN Summer Field Trip Series - Friday, July 19, 2024: Coal Transitions: An Ecosystem Restoration and Cultural History Tour of Ohio’s Coal Country

As part of our Summer Field Trip Series, this EPN event will feature a tour of ecosystem restoration and cultural preservation in historically coal producing areas of eastern Ohio. In the late 1800's, Perry County, Ohio was known to have the largest working coal mines in the world. In 1969, Muskingum County, Ohio became home to the world’s largest drag line for extracting coal, the 240-feet tall “Big Muskie,” which moved more than 483 million cubic yards of rock and earth before it was shut down in 1991.Though reductions in coal production and consumption, which are occurring unevenly around the world, including in eastern Ohio, are driving a wide variety of social, economic, political, and environmental impacts. There is an urgent need to coordinate academic and policy work focused on coal transitions and foster mutual understanding and sharing of insights from diverse transition experiences.

Here in Ohio, these ecosystem restoration and cultural preservation strategies are coordinated through a diverse network of local, state, and regional environmental professionals and organizations, pointing the way for our region’s approach to coal transitions. In Southeast Ohio, Little Cities of Black Diamonds refers to a region of 72 small towns that share aspects of a rich regional story tied to national history by the genesis of the American labor movement, contributions of ethnically and culturally diverse immigrants, and resilience alongside the restoration of natural resources in a mixed hardwood forest ecosystem.2

Join the EPN, in partnership with the Global Coal Transitions Research Network, to expand your network and gather hands-on experience and knowledge at the following learning locations:

  • Ecosystem restoration and wildlife management at The Wilds.
  • Cultural and coal extraction history at the Miner's Memorial Park in Jesse Owens State Park and eat lunch in Big Muskie Bucket.
  • Learn about the community and economic development strategies facilitated by the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council.
  • Experience Robinson’s Cave where labor workers and organizers held meetings that led to the formation of the United Mine Workers of America.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (2024). Miner's Memorial Park & Big Muskie's Bucket, Historical Site #38.

2  Little Cities of Black Diamonds, "Three Stories of National Significance." (n.d.) link here.