The highest point in Kentucky may be prone to collapse

Anita Durairaj

Black Mountain in Kentucky is the tallest point in the state. Its summit elevation is 4,145 feet. The mountain peak is located in Harlan County in southeastern Kentucky.

The peak is about 500 feet taller than any other mountain in Kentucky. The summit lies above the towns of Lynch, Kentucky and Applachia, Virgina.

Black Mountain's history is tied to coal mining in the area. The coal town of Lynch is located at the foot of the mountain.

The summit of Black Mountain was previously owned by a coal company reported to be the Penn Valley Coal Company. Any visitors who wished to access the summit would have had to sign a liability waiver and accept personal responsibility for their own safety.

According to the coal company, the summit is prone to collapse because Black Mountain lies over many hollowed out veins. There was concern that underground mining could cause a cave-in.

While there may be a degree of risk to visiting the summit of Black Mountain, there are recent reports that waivers are no longer required and that the state has acquired the ownership of the summit.

A recent article in the International Journal of Mining Science and Technology states that there are still risks in the mining of coal beneath Black Mountain. The article highlights the risks involved for coal miners and the possible occurrence of coal bursts.

Despite safety factors, Black Mountain remains a popular spot for mountain bikers, all-terrain vehicles and adventure seeking enthusiasts. The views at the summit, and the ecology of the area makes this a site worth visiting.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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