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The World of the Story and Mood Boards

The forests and mountains of West Virginia are remote and beautiful but with the discovery of coal in the 1890s, hundreds of thousands of miners were imported into the state from all over the world and installed in jerry-built, wooden, shanty towns, which were ruled by the mine companies as private, commercial dictatorships.

The mine-owners of Southern West Virginia made their profits by undercutting the unionised coalfields of the North and thus their prosperity depended on preventing the unions organising in their mines. To do this they launched a war on their own employees fought by a private army of ‘Mine Guards’ who violently denied the miners the most basic of their constitutional rights.

The historical events that inspired Rednecks have been extensively researched and all of the plot incidents involving the struggle between the mine owners and the miners are based on documented historical events.

Comparable series:

Rednecks the television series, is focused on two contrasting but inter-dependent communities in a fictionalised version of southern West Virginia.

 

One is the community of poor miners and their families led by Reuben Forrester, Aaron Banks, Dixie MacCabe and Jed Hicks, who live and work in the fictional town of Coal Creek near the town of Weeping in Magan County, West Virginia.  

 

The other is the fictional community of wealthy coal company owners and local politicians based in Garrison, the Magan county capital, which is dominated by Ward Drummond, his eldest daughter Savannah and the County Sheriff, Doyle Quinlan.

Coal Creek is a wooden ‘coal company town’, sometimes known as a 'Coal Camp', built and owned by the Drummond Coal & Coke Company. About 150 miners and their families live in the small town, really a village, that sits right on top of a ‘room and pillar’ drift mine. The town was built by the coal company 25 years ago and only exists because of the coal mine. 

The town is populated by Europeans from Italy, Poland, Wales and Scotland, and by black Americans escaping the ‘Jim Crow’ laws of the Deep South, who have all been shipped-in to work in the mines. Unlike in most of the USA, these groups are united by their identity as ‘miners’ and work together largely without racial or religious tensions.

These immigrant miners have been fighting for their constitutional and civil rights since the turn of the century but after World War One things stepped up a notch as miners who had served in the US army returned to West Virginia and were no longer willing to live under the tyranny of the Mine Guards. 

Two miles from Coal Creek is the small, incorporated town of Weeping, set on a bend of the Mohawk River. Even though this is the nineteen twenties Weeping looks and feels like a small town from the old Wild West. Almost all the buildings are wooden and there is a Main Street with a saloon and various stores with the 'false fronts' of a town from the wild west.

At the other end of the social scale Magan county capital, Garrison, is a prosperous, nouveau riche, American coal town. The stone built municipal buildings are surrounded by the luxurious mansions of the mine owners built in the colonial style of the Southern slave plantations. It is said there are more millionaires per square mile in Garrison than anywhere else in West Virginia, perhaps even the entire Southern states of the USA.

The elite social scene of Garrison attempts to rival that of the West Virginia state capital Charleston, and certainly does in terms of colour and spectacle, but the remoteness of Garrison from Charleston, let alone Washington and New York, lends the Garrison social scene a certain gauche desperation.