Historic & Archaeological Sites on Blair Mountain Being Damaged

Posted on: July 19th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment
Blair Mountain in West Virginia, site of the largest armed labor conflict in U.S. history. (Photo: Harvard Ayers)

Blair Mountain in West Virginia, site of the largest armed labor conflict in U.S. history. (Photo: Harvard Ayers)

Written by Nell Ziehl

Earlier this month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Sierra Club and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition learned that at least five locations within the Blair Mountain National Register-nominated battlefield (listed as one of our 2006 11 Most Endangered Historic Places) have been bulldozed and partially destroyed. We know that one archaeological site and additional potential sites have been damaged.

This tragedy means that a part of our American history is lost forever. While the battlefield’s integrity remains largely intact, every act of destruction erases bits of this story that pitted coal company interests against a union army fighting for a basic quality of life.

A view of the earthen trench in Spruce Fork Ridge on Blair Mountain. (Photo: Nell Ziehl)

A view of the earthen trench in Spruce Fork Ridge on Blair Mountain. (Photo: Nell Ziehl)

Destruction of the battlefield also means a lost opportunity for the people of West Virginia, who could benefit from the heritage tourism and recreational opportunities possible only if the site is protected.

The National Trust is working hard to find out who’s responsible for the destruction on Blair Mountain. We’ve sounded the alarm, in hopes that it will stop future demolition. We have also filed a petition with the National Park Service, insisting that the agency reinstate this nationally significant place in the National Register.

Why? Because it’s important to know where we come from. Blair marks a turning point in the history of the Appalachian coal mines, but it’s also the history of working people everywhere.

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Nell Ziehl is a program officer in the Southern Field Office at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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One Response

  1. Steven Lindsey

    July 21, 2010

    An appeal to the politicized National Park Service?

    Godspeed to your endeavor, but don’t hold your breath!

    Steven Lindsey
    state rep
    Keene, NH

    (Remember the lost steamer Nobska, the lost ferry Ellis Island, and soon, the destruction of Jack’s Bridge in Lowell, Ma.