436 HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS
miles, is typical of the numerous half-abandoned mining towns of the
area. They are unincorporated and, with their unpaved streets and un- 1
painted buildings, come into view like blighted spots on the land. They
have all the inconveniences and few, if any, of the comforts of modern .
towns of equal size, and none of the advantages of the agricultural coun- j
tryside. Small drab houses, most of them in need of repair, huddle 4
close together along the deep valleys or stand uncertainly on the moun-
tain sides. Most of them are of boom-time ilimsiness, with one thick-
ness of board in the walls that rest on slender, often tottering, posts, l
many are papered with newspapers and patched with cardboard to shut Q
out draughts. Dark hills of coal tailings blotch the sides and bases of '
the larger hills. The numerous abandoned mines are marked by ,
warped and disjointed frame tipples and entrances, weathered to a dull 1
gray. Only the waters of Pond Creek, now littered with tin cans and
other refuse, suggest the natural beauty that was destroyed by indus- ;
trial development when it penetrated the formerly inaccessible places.
Since the middle 1920s the miners of the Pond Creek region, when j
not totally unemployed, have worked only part time. Some of the I
towns are slowly reviving on a new pattern. Mining, of necessity, is no
longer the sole occupation. Odd jobs in lumbering, agriculture, road
building, Government projects and construction, supplement the em-
ployment, mostly seasonal, that is still afforded by the mines. The
groups of men clustered around a store or the local "joint" are part of
the army of former miners. Life in the coal-mining towns is meager
and hard. The customary diet of the miner and his family consists
chiefly of beans-and more beanscorn bread made without milk, and
"bulldog gravy," a mixture of flour, water, and a little grease. In the
summer those fortunate enough to find a small patch may grow a few
vegetables, but for the most part they grow pumpkins. There is little
or no milk available even for the children. As a result diseases of mal-
nutrition are common. Leisure is abundant and money scarce. Brawls
and an occasional shooting, a bit of penny- and nickel-gambling, all of
them usually enlivened with moonshine, are the recreation of the men.
US 119 at 7 m. begins its ascent from the valley into the mountains
vrlxzlgose forested slopes and ridges constantly change in appearance.
ey are gray-green on a misty mornin a vivid een on a clear after-
noon. The tender fernlike foliage of eaily springgrwhen each leaf, bud,
and shoot is a delicate green, changes into the heavier, deeper-hued
vegetation of summer. In the fall, the sun, which shines in many val-
leys for only a few hours, splashes the tree-clad mountains with light,
intensifying the yellows, reds, oranges, browns, and dark greens.
One of the most impressive views on US 119 between Williamson,
West Virginia, and Pikeville is at 17.2 m. From the top of the ridge
the surrounding maze of ranges, deeply cut by narrow valleys and ex-
tending to the horizon, form a scene of wild, rugged beauty.
I PIIQEVILLE, 32.2 m. (680 alt., 3,376 pop.) (see Tour 1), is at the
junction with US 23 (see Tour 1),- between this point and jenkins, US
119 and US 23 are united.