On November 29, 2012, a group of historic preservation, labor history, and environmental protection organizations decided to file an appeal in order to protect the Blair Mountain Battlefield and restore the historic site with the National Register of Historic Places.
Blair Mountain was home to one of the most historic labor struggles in United States history. Thousands of coal miners stood up against the coal industry and fought with law enforcement in 1921 at the site and asked for greater labor rights and the right to unionize.
Kenny King, a lifelong resident of Blair and member of the Board of Friends of Blair Mountain, stated: “Never before, nor since have so many American workers taken up arms to fight for their constitutional rights. Blair Mountain, West Virginia stands not only as a reminder of our proud history, but also as a living symbol of hope for all who seek justice.”
The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 after numerous revisions were made to nominations over the years. The site was de-listed just nine months later, but the group of petitioners believes the de-listing was unlawful.
The National Park Service decided to de-list Blair Mountain in December of 2009, and a U.S. District Court ruled on October 2, 2012 that the groups filing for the re-enlistment did not have legal standing because there was a lack of proof concerning threats to the coal mining site’s preservation.
The groups involved in the appeal argue that the court ignored a large amount of evidence stating coal mining companies still seek permits to mine the battlefield. They argue the coal mining companies tried to block the listing of Blair Mountain on the National Register as well.
Regina Hendrix with the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, stated: “With the exception of the Civil War, the Blair battle is the largest insurrection in U.S. history. We cannot let this rich, undisturbed, site be wiped away forever. The area is a vital part of U.S. labor history. The archaeological record waiting to be explored will clearly show the places where the battle occurred, as well as the intensity of the battle at different sites.”
The groups appealing the de-listing of Blair Mountain include the Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Friends of Blair Mountain, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the West Virginia Labor History Association, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.”
Source: Sierra Club