In the 19th century, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky were the the epicenters of coal mining in America. Not only was coal needed for energy, but it was a key to the steelmaking process. Trees Above with Coal Below follows the immigration of the John Nuttall family to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where they became pioneers in the coal industry, eventually establishing a relationship with Henry Ford, who wanted control of the sources of coal needed to make the steel used in his automobiles.
Author John Nuttall introduces us to L.W. Nuttall, who was not only a coal magnate, but one of America’s premier botanists. He introduces us the Hatfields and the McCoys, to the notorious Roe family, and to the little- known ginseng industry in West Virginia.
Today the Nuttall property is managed by descendants of the original pioneer family as a multi-use resource of lumber, coal, and outdoor recreation. A portion of the land, famous as a prime spot for hiking and whitewater rafting in the New River Gorge, has become part of the National Park system.