My paternal grandfather worked in coal mines in Southwest Virginia his whole life, and managed to escape unscathed. I remember his hat with a light on it, and his older hat with a what looked like a mirror and candlestick holder. I don't know if that's exactly what it was, and I was too scared of him to ask. Most of Southwest VA is a honeycomb of mines and leftover equipment -- left to rot and pollute. Not much coal mining there anymore.
On the other side of the family, my gr-grandfather worked for a while at the Century Mine in WV. It's closed down now, but I've been to visit. WV is a mess from all the coal mines, but mother nature works wonders eventually. My grandfather remembers some rivers running blackish-brown and being totally dead of life when he was a kid, but are mostly clean and full of fish now.