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Arts & Culture

Events Across the State To Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Mine Wars, Battle of Blair Mountain

Blair-after-the-battle-4a.jpeg
Wikimedia Commons
After the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921 the union miners surrendered to the federal troops and gave them their weapons. Three miners with federal soldier prepare to surrender weapons.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain. While the anniversary is still weeks away, organizations and communities in southern West Virginia are already commemorating the centennial.

The Battle of Blair Mountain is one of West Virginia’s largest moments in American history.

As part of the Mine Wars, coal miners marched near the Boone-Logan County line from late August to Sept. 3. The march was the largest labor uprising in U.S. history.

It happened in the early 1900’s after coal miners in West Virginia endured years of dangerous conditions underground and brutal political and cultural treatment above ground.

By 1921, the miners decided to fight for their fellow miners in the Mingo County town of Williamson, who were locked up without trial. They were charged with violating martial law, an act that gives absolute power to the federal military during times of “war, rebellion, or natural disaster.” The battle ended when martial law was declared again, and U.S. Army troops disarmed the miners.

The uprising has been largely underreported but organizations and communities are hoping the events this year will provide more opportunities for people to visit and learn about America’s labor history.

Dozens of events are taking place online and in communities that played an important part in the Battle of Blair Mountain and the Mine Wars. Some of those towns include Matewan and Williamson in Mingo County, Madison, in Boone County and Welch in McDowell County.

Some of the groups working to organize the events include the Mine Wars Museum in Matewan, the West Virginia Humanities Council, and the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.

The next event is a performance of the play “Terror of the Tug” in Summers County at Pipestem Resort State Park amphitheatre on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. The main events are happening Sept. 3 and Labor Day, the first Monday of the month, Sept. 6. Some of the events include outdoor plays, reenactments, tours, virtual roundtable discussions and retracing the march to Blair Mountain.

The anniversary is Sept. 3, so Labor Day Weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the centennial. You can find a list of events commemorating the 100th anniversary at this site.


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