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The Fight to Preserve Blair Mountain Battlefield

Monday, August 25, 2014


 

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA—Today marks the 93rd anniversary of the beginning of the battle between more than 10,000 union coal miners and thousands of local law enforcement officers and coal company guards along Blair Mountain Ridge—the largest armed confrontation in American labor history. Now, two mining companies want to strip-mine coal from areas near the Blair Mountain Battlefield, and from the battlefield itself, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. According to a report in The Charleston Gazette, environmentalists, preservationists, and the United Mine Workers continue to work for stricter regulations to preserve the landscape. “Some historians recognize the Battle as a principal catalyst for passage of the National Labor Relations Act [in 1935], the federal statutory framework for worker organizing and the peaceful resolution of industrial disputes,” Laura P. Karr, a lawyer for the United Mine Workers, wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers last year. Charles B. Keeney III, chair of the Friends of Blair Mountain, adds that artifacts related to troop movements, buried weapons, shell casings, entrenchments, and possibly even human remains are likely to be at the site, and they would be lost by any potential mining activity. To read more about the battlefield, see ARCHAEOLOGY's feature article "Mountaintop Rescue."