Here's one small example of what we know is a common misconception:
I recently upgraded our satellite service to Hi-Def. The technician had a need to go through our basement to work on a connection. He spotted my Koker and asked if I had a supplemental wood burner. I said "no, it's the coal furnace I use to heat the house". He immediately came back with"you burn coal? how could the basement be so clean?
So "coal" automatically means "dirty".
The other hurdle is simply that many people haven't wanted to get into doing anything that requires effort. They want to just turn something on (gas/electric/oil/propane furnace) and sit and watch TV. I may be getting too old but I believe the society we live in today is fast becoming completely helpless and is happy to be going that way. Coal burners are one of the exceptions. (climbs down off soapbox)
I do have some friends and relatives that are wood burners and they go that way because the wood is "free". I think they just haven't thought things through. They may yet see the light and enroll in your university.
Lastly is the Amish who quietly burn a lot of Anthracite in hand fed stoves. There are a lot of them around here and I would imagine if they saw this forum they'd wonder what all the fuss is about.
So we do burn our fair share of hard coal in NE Ohio, but we've been doing it quietly. And you're right; we're lucky to be as close as we are to the "epicenter of warmth".