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.
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.
- Groups Alerted to Destruction on West Virginia’s Historic Blair Mountain Battlefield: Mystery Behind Who is Disturbing 1921 Site of Nation’s Largest Armed Labor Conflict
- Strategies for Challenging Destructive Mining: Lessons from Blair Mountain
Nell Ziehl is a program officer in the Southern Field Office at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.