CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The United Mine Workers of America supported efforts to save the historic Blair Mountain battlefield in a legal motion it filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Battle of Blair Mountain lasted five days, in late August and early September 1921, when union miners were marching from Marmet in Kanawha County down to the Logan County coalfields.
Armed guards, hired by coal operators operating non-union mines, confronted the miners on Blair Mountain. The battle ended when federal troops arrived.
The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest armed confrontation in U.S. labor history.
Today, coal companies, including Massey Energy and Arch Coal, have expressed interest in developing strip mines along the historic 15-mile mountain ridge between Boone and Logan counties.
"The courage and sacrifice of UMWA miners is the sole reason Blair Mountain carries historic significance that makes it eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places," the union states in its motion asking the court to allow it to file an "amicus curiae brief" with the circuit court.
"Though the UMWA miners who marched to Blair Mountain were defeated in battle, their stand paved the way for legislative and collective bargaining achievements in the first half of the 20th century that helped build the American middle class."
The miners' march helped focus national attention on economic and political conditions in the Southern West Virginia coalfields.
The UMWA motion supports a lawsuit previously filed by the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Friends of Blair Mountain and the West Virginia Labor History Association against U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
In 2006, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Blair Mountain as one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places."
The National Park Service added Blair Mountain to its National Register of Historic Places in March 2009.