Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

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August 2009

Floods ... Again
OVEC Organizer Wins International Recognition with Green Nobel
JOBS and Energy Answers for Our WV Mountain Communities
Picnic for Green JOBS
MTR Mining Equipment Taken Off Gauley Mountain For Now
Board Adds Conditions to Disputed Fayette County Mine Permit
Lets Make Sure the Transition to a Clean, Green Energy Future in WV is a Peaceful One
Calling All Potential New OVEC Board of Directors Members!
Congress Doesnt Always Want to Come CLEAN
The CLEAN Citizens Leading For Energy Action Now
American Clean Energy Security Act: Coal Rewarded
Good Gosh, We Could Have Used That Money to Jump Start the Clean Energy Future in America!
Slurry Lawsuit Settlers Frustrated With Wait for Money
Mountains Aided With First-Ever Fundraising Concert in North Carolina
Sludge Safety Project Legislative Session Wrap-Up
DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin
OVEC Organizer Testifies at Senate MTR Hearing
Thanks for All the Volunteers Who Helped After the Floods
Fighting For Our Ancestors Resting Places
Lobbying for Green Jobs in DC
Growing Movement Demands Protection for Mountains, Climate, Humanity
Environmental Groups Ask EPA to Take Over WV Pollution Permitting
Byrds Eye View: Staffers Get Close-Up Views of Mountain Range Removal
A Good Win in A Critical Federal Court Case Against MTR
Judicial Bill Pulled by Governor
Supreme Court Case Makes WV A National Laughingstock
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Photovoice Participants Capture their Communities in Images
Photovoice Exhibitions Well Covered By Local and Statewide Media
You Dont Have to Go to Copenhagen to Make a Difference
Obama and Mountaintop Removal Mining: The Roller Coaster Ride
New CD Celebrates Coalfield Resistance to Mountaintop Removal
Blair Mountain and the National Register of Historic Places
Ashford Yesterday, Today and Maybe Tomorrow?
Come Home to West Virginia? Buyer Beware!
Louv-ley Day in Charleston
Who Are They Kidding?
Web Extras:
Open Letter to Governor Manchin about Blair Mountain
Matewan, West Virginia

For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

Winds of Change Newsletter, August 2009     See sidebar for table of contents

Open Letter to Governor Manchin about Blair Mountain

April 17, 2009

Governor Joe Manchin
State Capitol, Building 1
1900 Kanawha Blvd. E.
Charleston, WV 25305

Dear Governor Manchin:

As an archeologist who has spent a year of field and laboratory research studying the 1600 acre Blair Mountain Battlefield, I urge you to do everything you can to protect this nationally significant site, which you no doubt are aware has recently been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This great honor for Blair Mountain and for West Virginia is well deserved. It is the largest civil insurrection in our countrys history since the Civil War. The 1921 battle lasted almost a week, resulted in the firing of over a million rounds of ammunition, in the dropping of bombs, in reconnaissance missions flown by the US Army Air Corps against American citizens, and involved between 12,000 and 15,000 combatants. It ended when the 10,000 or so miners disbanded rather than fight against the US Army when they were about to defeat the several thousand fighters who opposed their attempts to unionize the southern coalfields of West Virginia.

The Blair Mountain battle is by far the largest confrontation of the so-called coal wars. While the unionizing fervor was temporarily quieted by the battle, some dozen years later, federal legislation was passed condoning the right to organize for all workers.

About three weeks ago, the National Park Service, after a dozen year determined effort by West Virginia citizens and others, finally listed the Blair Mountain Battlefield on the National Register of Historic Places. Heroes of this effort included West Virginians Kenny King, Frank Unger, Barbara Rasmussen, and Regina Hendricks. These four people and many others fought off the attempts of the coal mining industry to prevent the well-deserved honor and notoriety that this listing afforded to Blair Mountain. Industry intimidation efforts included a law suit against the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer, hiring an archeologist to dispute our research findings- in fact one who never set foot on the numerous finds of important battle evidence- and a directed campaign to stir up objections to the listing.

In my opinion as a career archeologist, the Blair Mountain Battlefield is a unique historic and cultural treasure that deserves all the recognition and protection we can muster. My archeological research conducted in preparing the National Register nomination indicates that the battle site has tremendous integrity. It presents a rich and well-preserved record of the details of the conflict. Indeed many of these details are not available from the historical record. The preliminary research has revealed interesting and provocative information about the military movements, weapons used, and battle strategies practiced by both the miners and the coal industry forces. I have continued my research since doing the nomination work and expect to be among the archeologists who continue to discover more of the secrets that the battlefield still holds close.

Despite Blair Mountains recent honors, it is not yet safe. The coal industry is currently trying to overturn its listing on the National Register. At the 11th hour as the battlesite was about to be listed, the industry conducted a scare campaign to con property owners within the nomination boundary into signing formal objections to the listing. Fortunately, the Keeper of the National Register acted before these last minute objections were noted- if over half of the property owners object, a site cannot be listed, only declared eligible for listing. The site has now been declared eligible for and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the burden of proof is on the coal industry lawyers, who are scrambling to say that a tiny majority of land owners objected.

I am concerned that the recent attempt to remove the Blair Mountain Battlesite from the National Register is to make it easier for the coal industry to blow up Spruce Fork Ridge, which constitutes the 1600 acre battlesite. This would of course, destroy this world-class archeological and historical wonder. In my mind, this would be a travesty of immense proportions.

Governor Manchin, please help us work with the federal and your state agencies to permanently protect the site of the Battle of Blair Mountain now listed on the National Register. If for some reason mining should ever become necessary, please work with the parties involved to ensure that this wonderful resource is not destroyed in the process. Thank you.


Harvard G. Ayers, Professor Emeritus
Department of Anthropology
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina 28608


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