CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The interim keeper of the National Register of Historic Places has denied a petition asking her to reconsider the removal of the historic Blair Mountain battlefield site from the national register.
But the interim keeper, Carol D. Shull, said the controversy surrounding the site could be best addressed by renominating the site for the National Register. She encouraged West Virginia state officials to do that.
The Battle of Blair Mountain was fought in August 1921 along a 15-mile ridgeline between Boone and Logan counties. It was the largest armed conflict in U.S. labor history.
At least 7,500 coal miners marched south from Marmet over Blair Mountain, trying to organize nonunion mines in Logan County. The miners confronted a force of 3,000 law officers, many of whom worked for coal companies.
In recent months, arguments have focused on whether a majority of local landowners want to preserve the historic battlefield or open it up to coal mining.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Sierra Club and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition filed the latest petition in an effort to save the historic site from possible mining operations, including mountaintop removal mining.
Dianne Brady, co-director of OVEC, based in Huntington, said on Wednesday, "As the site of the biggest labor struggle in U.S. history, Blair Mountain's historical significance is undeniable. We will examine our options, including litigation."
Andrea C. Foster, a Washington lawyer who represents the three groups trying to preserve Blair Mountain, said on Wednesday, "This doesn't mean the next step is to go to court. We haven't made any decision about litigation yet, or about where to file a lawsuit."
Shull believes the whole process should begin again.