11 Most Endangered Historic Places
Blair Mountain Battlefield
Year Listed: 2006
Location: Logan County, West Virginia
Threat: Development, Poor Public Policy
The 1,600-acre Spruce Fork Ridge of Blair Mountain, about 90 minutes southwest of Charleston, W.Va., was the scene of the showdown in 1921 between a miners' army at least 7,000 strong and a 3,000-man defensive force headed by Logan County Sheriff Don Chafin and other law officers, many of whom were on the coal companies' payrolls. The defensive force, bolstered by private planes that dropped homemade bombs on the miners, dug trenches, blocked roads, felled trees and mounted machine guns along the 15-mile ridgeline. The miners used natural pathways to mount the ridge and breach Chafin's line. The confrontation was the largest armed labor conflict in the nation's history, with miners seeking the right not only to unionize but also to exercise civil liberties such as freedom of speech and assembly.