Workers in southern West Virginia’s coalfields have not received the recognition they deserve for their sacrifices in creating better working and living conditions for all Americans. But the tide is turning as the state’s rich history of militant labor union activity is attracting greater appreciation from a wider audience.
A group of West Virginia residents, tired of officials deliberately suppressing history of the state’s labor union movement, recently banded together to tell the story of how thousands of coal miners in the early 20th century united to fight a powerful industry. Their efforts resulted in the creation of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum in the historic town of Matewan in Mingo County, W.Va. The museum, fresh off its grand opening in mid-May, offers visitors a captivating look at a series of sometimes violent battles that occurred in southern West Virginia’s coalfields.