Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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Winds of Change
October 2004

Contents

Judge Expands Ruling
Against Valley Fills

But Bush Says, Not So Fast!

A Note from Dianne
Coalfield "terror" eludes authorities
What a SHOCKING Surprise - Pulp Mill Was a Boondoggle After All
Reverential Reflections on Mountaintop Removal in WV
Global Warming Costly!
Coal Isnt My Friend
Child Killed by Avoidable Mining Tragedy
New York Times: Friends in White House Come to Coals Aid
New Campaign Aims to Change Political Same-Old, Same-Old
Fair And Clean Elections Could Change the FACE of WV Politics
Clean Elections for the Future!
Another Reason There is No Such Thing As "Clean" Coal
EPA Wording Found to Mirror Industrys; Influence on Mercury Proposal Probed
Coal-Fired Plants Raising New Health Concerns
Mountaintop Removal / Valley Fill Strip Mining In The News
Mercury, Coal and Human Health; A Mothers Statement on the Effects of Mercury Poisoning on Children
Say What You Want, King Coal, Mountaineers Do NOT Support MTR
MTR NOT "Sustainable"
OVEC and NAACP Partner at Tri-State Multi-Cultural Festival
The Role of Mountaintop Removal in Economic Insecurity and Homeland Destruction
Moving Mountains Release Party in Shepherdstown Benefits OVEC, CRMW
Historic Blair Mountain Prepares for Its Last Stand
A Sad Good-bye to Bill Maxey, Who Spoke the Truth About MTR
The Race to Dismantle Racism: It's Still Alive and Well
Jack Spadaro Settles Long Fight With MSHA, Retires for Sake of His Health
Stand Up to Logging, MTR
Bush Administration Gutting FOIA and Hurting Publics Right to Know
"Forever Wild"- A Celebration of Wilderness Songs, Stories and Visions by Walkin Jim Stoltz
Coal vs. Wind - A Few Facts
Thanks to All the Awesome OVEC Volunteers!


For viewing the PDF version

 

Historic Blair Mountain Prepares for Its Last Stand

by Regina Hendrix, OVEC board member

In July 1921, Matewan mayor Sid Hatfield was shot and killed on the steps of the McDowell County Courthouse.

As captured in the movie Matewan, Hatfield was a fervent supporter of coal miners and their efforts to unionize. His murder galvanized miners simmering frustration into an armed protest to unionize West Virginias coal mines.

The shooting war that followed in Logan County during August and September of 1921 became known as the Battle of Blair Mountain, where 10,000 coal miners rose up against state officials and armed federal troops in an undeclared civil war that lasted ten days.

Action Alert

Letters of support to your congressional representatives will enlist their assistance in preserving this site of West Virginia history. Talking points:

  • The battle of Blair Mountain is one of the most significant historical events in West Virginia.

  • We have always treated our battlefields with respect.

  • The battle of Blair Mountain was the first time that airplanes were deployed in an industrial dispute.

  • There is currently a lack of recreational land in Logan County. Historic preservation would supplement Chief Logan State Park.

  • Historical preservation listing would complement the designation of Route 17 as a scenic byway and will enhance tourism in Logan County.

  • There are currently plans to preserve the site of the trials at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Preservation of the battleground completes the honoring of this event.

  • The Battle of Blair Mountain has had a lasting impact on the lives of many residents, not only in Logan County, but throughout the entire state of West Virginia and surrounding states.

  • Listing as an historical landmark will provide permanent protection for an important labor history site.

ADDRESSES:

Senator Robert C. Byrd, 311 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Wash., D. C. 20510-4801

Senator John D. Rockefeller III, 531 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Wash., D. C. 20510-4802

Congressman Alan Mollohan, Rayburn House Office Bldg., Wash., D. C. 20515-4801

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, 1431 Longworth House Office Bldg., Wash., D. C. 20515-4802

Congressman Nick Rahall, 2307 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Wash., D.C. 20515-4803

When you write, please forward a copy for the record to: Regina Hendrix, 1637 Quarrier St., Apt. 3, Charleston, WV, 25311. E-mail: regina1936@verizon.net. (304) 343-5211.

Although the battle did not achieve the immediate goal to unionize the Logan coalfields, the United Mine Workers of America won a moral victory, as the public at large learned of the everyday injustices endured by working men and women in a socio-political environment dominated by private, coal company interests.

These political, economic and cultural forces shaped the power structure of 20th Century America.

Union efforts in the area were eventually vindicated with the 1933 passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act, which legalized the right of coal miners to join a union without the fear of reprisals from mine owners or operators. Widespread unionization followed in the West Virginia coalfields.

Several recent events have heightened local and national interest in the site of the battle:

Robert Shogan, an author of national prominence, has just released a new book, The Battle of Blair Mountain: The Story of Americas Largest Labor Uprising. He visited Charleston, Charles Town, and Logan in June 2004 to promote the book and to tour the battlefield site.

The Jefferson County Preservation Alliance to Save Our Heritage has been working for the past three years to prevent the demolition of the historic jailhouse where a number of the Blair Mountain coal miners, including leader Bill Blizzard, were imprisoned prior to their treason trial in 1922.

Route 17 in Logan County has been designated a National Scenic Byway.

But the historic site of the Battle of Blair Mountain remains largely unrecognized and unprotected.

Late last year, I met Kenny King, an OVEC member and a resident of Logan County whose ancestors took part in this battle.  Kenny has been exploring the Blair Mountain area and documenting artifacts from this site for over 10 years.  He has compiled an impressive record of the artifacts that still dot the battlefields landscape.

Since 1980 there have been several efforts to have the site of the Battle of Blair Mountain designated an Historic Place.  For various reasons, none of these efforts have been carried to a successful conclusion.

In order to present an application for the National Register, Kenny needed assistance with the mapping, aerial photography and the historical narrative.

That assistance is now being provided by Friends of the Mountains, a coalition of environmental groups of which OVEC is a member.  (The FOM group meets monthly to coordinate efforts and activism against mountaintop removal in Appalachia). 

The FOM coalition has procured the services of Frank Unger, a historian from Walton, WV. Frank and Kenny have done the research, the mapping and the historical narrative, which has been submitted to the WV State Historic Preservation Office for preliminary review and recommendation.

The application will be presented to the Archives and History Commission.  The Commission will make a recommendation to the National Park Service for placement of this site on the National Register of  Historic Places.

We are indebted to Susan Lapis of SouthWings, who volunteered to fly our photographer, Chuck Wyrostock, over the battle site while he did the photography required for the nomination.

 

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