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Know the West

Life After Coal


The excellent February 2021 “End of the Line” issue hit home in several ways today as I read Jessica Kutz’s “Life After Coal.” I was halfway through the article when the outbound (read: filled) Union Pacific coal train from the West Elk Mine, east of Paonia, passed only 160 feet from our home. Nothing new, but certainly ironic while reading this important issue with a photo of a filled coal train on its cover.

The coal trains to and from the West Elk Mine are fewer now and not even on a regular schedule, sometimes one round-trip train a day to no trains for a day or two. The writing is on the longwall — pun intended — for the miners, and we hope their transition to new jobs is successful.

Thank you, HCN, for this critical reporting.

Rick Freimuth
Paonia, Colorado