Southern Illinois Coalfield Tour
April 29 through May 1, 2011

Click here for a flier.

Interested in learning first-hand about the true cost of coal in Illinois? Join citizen activists, award-winning author Jeff Biggers, and water quality professionals from the Heartland Coalfield Alliance for a two-day tour of southern Illinois’ coalfields. Participants will explore the impacts that the entire coal life cycle has on the lands, waters, health, and quality of life of southern Illinois communities.

We will depart from Carbondale Saturday morning as a group for a driving tour of the nation’s largest new coal-fired power plant and examples of contemporary surface and underground coal mines that feed such a plant. Participants will see a massive coal slurry and coal ash dump, a strip mine, areas subsided from longwall mining, and get the chance to hear directly from local residents who are concerned about the effects mining has on the quality of life and health of citizens, communities and coal miners. We’ll conclude the first day of the tour at a beautiful retreat center high atop bluffs overlooking the Ohio River, with entertaining,topical storytelling and poetry reading.

We’ll begin our Sunday tour taking in the magnificent views from the bluff top at the edge of the Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area. From there we will drive down into Eagle Creek Valley to witness the devastation that occurs to the land and communities when the land is cleared and stripped away. A spectacular drive over Eagle Mountain and along the northern side of Wildcat Hills will take us out into the Saline River valley where strip mining is occurring a rapid pace.

This tour is intended for concerned citizens who want to learn what they can do to promote a just transition from a coal economy to a sustainable economy in America’s heartland.

  • Wear sturdy shoes for walking on (possibly muddy) dirt roads.
  • Bring water bottles and snacks. We will stop for meals as a group, and participants will cover the cost individually (vegetarian options may be limited). There will be regular restroom stops.
  • For participants who are traveling to Carbondale by train, please use this form to reserve a spot for pick up and drop off at the Carbondale Amtrak Station.

COST IS $185 – But does lodging or meals.  We will be coordinating a delegation from Chicago.  If you want to travel with us, call Lan at 773.556.3417. We will make room and travel reservations, and coordinate with the Heartland Coalfield Alliance (EJC is a founding member of the Alliance).

Tentative Itinerary

The tour officially begins on April 30th at 9:00 am at the Carbondale Super 8 Motel, 1180 E. Main Street.  EJC and delegates will head to Carbondale on Friday, April 29.

Please note: All rooms at both facilities will have two double or queen-sized beds—if possible, please consider sharing a room with your travel companion(s)

April 29
7:00 pm:  For those participants arriving Friday, will meet for dinner and enjoy topical entertainment. Details provided following your registration; shuttles will be provided from train station and the motel.

April 30
8:45 to 9:00 am:  Meet at the Carbondale Super 8 Motel, 1180 E. Main Street

9:30 am: First stop, view of Knight Hawk Creek Paum strip mine.

10:15 am: Arrive at the Peabody Energy Prairie State power plant and mine. Prairie State is the nation’s largest coal-fired power plant built in the last 20 years. Hear from residents how this $6 billion plant has completely changed the lives of people in Lively Grove, IL and how the plant will impact their future, their health and their quality of life.

11:00 am: Arrive at Peabody’s Gateway Mine in Coulterville. Participants will hear from local residents about water contamination and health problems caused by Gateway’s massive unlined coal slurry and ash impoundments. We will also hear about how Peabody’s planned mine expansion will impact the town and it’s water source.

2:30 pm: Drive past the construction site of Sugar Camp longwall mine in Akin, IL and continue down the road less than 15 miles to Pond Creek longwall mine. At Pond Creek we’ll hear from former residents who were forced to leave their homes and community because of the unbearable conditions living next to a coal mine, see farm fields flooded and roads damaged from longwall mine subsidence.

4:45 pm: Arrive in Galatia where we drive past one of the nation’s most dangerous mines and see where union mines in Illinois were broken.

6:00 pm: Dinner in Elizabethtown on a floating restaurant in the Ohio River.

7:00 pm: Arrive San Damiano Retreat high above the Ohio River. Check into our rooms, relax and get readyfor the rest of the evening.

8:00 pm: Evening entertainment (under the stars—weather permitting!).

May 1
7:00 to 8:00 am:  Optional morning walk and bird watching on the grounds.

7:00 to 8:45 am:  Complimentary breakfast.

9:00 am:  Depart San Damiano Retreat

9:30 am:  Arrive Garden of the Gods bluff top trail to enjoy a magnificent view of the wilderness and hear about the history of the Shawnee National Forest.

10:45 am:  Arrive at the old Eagle Creek strip mine site—stand on the barren land where there once stood thriving communities amid hardwood forests, visit a cemetery that was nearly bulldozed under, and see how current strip mines continue to destroy the land today. From the Eagle Creek Valley we’ll take a scenic drive up and over Eagle Mountain into the Saline Valley where we will see massive former and current strip mine operations.

12:00 noon: Lunch as a group. Tour participants will recap the day and learn more about how they can get involved with ongoing efforts to promote a just economic and environmental future for Illinois’ coalfields.

3:00 pm:  Arrive in Carbondale to return participants to their vehicles or train station.


Call Lan Richart:  773.556 3417.

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