This paper closely analyzes the personal narrative of Earl E. Scott, Jr., a third generation low-wall coal miner from southwest Virginia, as a hero story. Low-wall mining, as Earl narrates it, is the descent into an unknown abyss, unearthing treasures brought back as boon to the above-ground world, retrieving from the underworld an energy source that, out of darkness, brings light to the world. Because I see Earl as the humble hero of his own stony, I use Joseph Campbell's model of the hero's journey to illuminate his narrative.


The author of "How Could a Timber Hold up a Mountain?" is Hannah Blevins Harvey.