CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State officials plan to renominate the site of the Battle of Blair Mountain, the site of the largest armed confrontation in American labor history, for a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
"The Division of Culture and History, through the Office of Historic Preservation, is initiating a process to renominate Blair Mountain to the National Register of Historic Places," Jacqueline Proctor, the division's deputy commissioner, said Friday afternoon.
"We don't have a timeline," she said. "We are initiating this. It involves many, many people. It will not be done by the end of the year.
"But it is being initiated. That should make some folks happy," Proctor said.
In July, Carol D. Shull, keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., urged state officials to renominate the site, saying that was the best way to quell controversy surrounding the site and its place on the National Register.
The area was placed on the National Register in March 2009, then removed from the register nine months later, after a new list of landowners at the site seemed to indicate that a majority of the landowners wanted the historic site to be opened to coal mining. Massey Energy and Arch Coal are among the companies that have indicated some interest in developing mining operations in the area.
Supporters of the site's place on the National Register say the new list was invalid.
"This second list turned out to have some dead people on it," said Gordon Simmons, president of the West Virginia Labor History Association. "We believed there was no adequate basis on which to revisit the issue."
The Battle of Blair Mountain was fought for five days, in late August and early September 1921, along the 15-mile ridge separating Boone and Logan counties.
At least 7,500 coal miners marched south from Marmet to Blair Mountain, planning to continue into Logan County to organize nonunion mines. The miners confronted a force of 3,000 law officers, many of whom worked directly for coal companies.