Rally to Save Historic Blair Mountain at Noon on State Capitol Steps

Compiled From a Provided Press Release; Edited by HNN
Charleston, WV- On Tuesday, November 1st, at 12:00 pm citizens will come together to rally for the protection of the Blair Mountain Battlefield and to raise awareness about the largest labor uprising in US history. In 1921, over ten thousand coal miners marched and fought for basic human rights to live and work in safe conditions.
Speakers will call on state agencies to preserve the Blair Mountain battlefield. Currently, Blair Mountain is threatened with destruction from mountain top removal mining, an extremely destructive form of surface coal extraction. Citizens are calling on the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), who they cite as favoring industry over citizen’s interests, to protect the battlefield. They will be presenting a petition with over 26,000 signatures to the SHPO.

“Blair Mountain is the most important labor heritage site in the nation and we are absolutely confident that by working together a solution can be found that protects the battlefield, grows the local economy, and allows us to meet our energy needs,” said Joe Stanley a retired union miner scheduled to speak at the rally. “But we need our state politicians and agencies, such as the State Historic Preservation Office, to work with the people rather than against us.”

Citizens have already been developing tourism at the battlefield. Doug Estepp, a Mingo County native, started the successful Coal Country Tours, which features a stop at Blair Mountain and plans to run twelve major tour buses in 2012. In addition, a new heritage museum opened by Friends of Blair Mountain in the town of Blair has had hundred of visitors since opening in September.

Brandon Nida, a West Virginian and UC Berkeley archaeology doctoral student, states “With these concrete steps, we have proven that tourism at Blair Mountain is profitable. This presents an opportunity for everyone to work together to provide tourism dollars for southern WV while honoring those who fought and died to create a just and safe life for all West Virginians.”

Starting at noon on Tuesday, speakers will include Joe Stanley - a retired UMWA miner, Brandon Nida - a Berkeley Doctoral Student, Harvard Ayers - an Appalachian State University archaeologist, and Wilma Steele - a retired art teacher and Mingo County Conservation Officer. For more information go to www.friendsofblairmountain.org
Comments powered by Disqus