March on Blair Mountain, June 6th through 11th, 2011!

I just wanted to send out the word for an important event happening this June.  Some months ago we blogged about the Blair Mountain project (https://lattimermassacre.wordpress.com/related-sites/blair-mountain/).  In 1921, on Blair Mountain, WV, 10,000 union coal miners fought coal company thugs for, among other things, the right to collectively bargaining. Blair Mountain, like Lattimer, is an important part of American history in so many ways.  Like many labor-related sites, it is a seriously neglected aspect of national and regional history.  Like in Hazleton, there is a big group of locals, many of them related to those that were involved in this event, that really care about it. Here is the project website again: http://www.friendsofblairmountain.org/

In the last few years an innovative archaeology project has reexamined aspects of the battle, and is now beginning excavations at the company store.  They are getting lots of great community involvement!

At the moment, Blair Mountain is in danger of being strip mined for coal. It is one of very few remaining  places with links to this kind of labor history left in this country. In early June (6-11th) the Friends of Blair Mountain will commemorate the event by marching along the route, ending with a rally at the mountain. I am hoping to attend! Come March on Blair Mountain this June to protect the history of collective bargaining and coal mining heritage. Learn about the archaeology project that is being done to explore and commemorate this history.  For more info see: http://www.marchonblairmountain.org. Please contact me if you plan to attend, we can talk about Lattimer along the way!

McKenna’s Corner Threatened

It has been a little while since the last post on this page.  We went through some personnel changes, and we are back!  There is a very important message we were asked to post on the website requiring immediate attention.  We received this important request from concerned citizens regarding resources associated with the Lattimer March that are threatened with demolition.  The following text describes the situation and the way citizens can act to prevent it from happening. It seems very possible, based on some recent contacts we have made, that in fact some historical buildings and places that were witness to the March and subsequent Massacre may have survived relatively intact along the route.  Please comment if you have any knowledge, impressions or ideas about this that you could share with the project and the community. 

A PennDOT highway widening project along S.R. 93, Broad Street in Hazleton, PA is threatening a “witness building” at 1 N. Broad Street at “McKenna’s Corner”, the site of the first confrontation drawing blood between the Lattimer marchers and the Luzerne County Sheriff and the armed posse which killed the marchers. If allowed to proceed, the project will demolish one of the critical axis points at the point of confrontation and will destroy a historic resource.  The Pennsylvania state review of the project under the National Historic Preservation Act completely failed to recognize the historic events at McKenna’s Corner. Its historic resources survey failed to adequately account for the National Register of Historic Places listing “Criterion A”, which recognizes places associated with “events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history”.

 

These events at McKenna’s Corner involved a confrontation between the coal mine worker marchers, the deputized posse, the Luzerne County sheriff and the West Hazleton Chief of Police at 2:00 pm of the day of the massacre, September 10, 1897. Here, the first blood was drawn in a confrontation that nearly turned to gunfire but for the action of the West Hazleton Chief of Police, Evan Jones. This confrontation preceded the massacre by only one and a half hours. In direct historic terms, those buildings that survive today along the route of the march to Lattimer and at McKenna’s Corner on Broad Street are the poignant silent witnesses and evidence to Pennsylvania’s most tragic labor history events.

 

As it now stands, the project recognizes buildings owned by coal barons such as George Markle, but would demolish the witness building, which was also the local United Mine Workers of America office. As a result, the historical record expressed by the fabric of the properties deemed worthy of historic preservation is history told from the side of the wealthy coal barons, but is silent from the viewpoint of the oppressed coal miners and organized labor in the coal fields of Pennsylvania.

 

We encourage letters of concern which urge a halt to the demolition, re-opening the historic review process under the National Historic Preservation Act, and requesting recognition of these historic resources.

 

Letters can be sent to:

 

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,

Old Post Office Building,

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 803, Washington, DC 20004,

and the

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission,

Bureau for Historic Preservation Commonwealth Keystone Building,

400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120-0093.

The letters of concern must use the reference “ER/05-8042-079, Broad Street Corridor

Improvements Project.”

Blair Mountain in WV Needs Your Help

This isn’t about Lattimer, but it is part of the story of the struggle for better working conditions, fair treatment of workers, and all the greed and corruption that surrounds those issues —

There’s a bit about Blair Mountain in the Related Sites section of this blog, which mentions the controversy over listing/de-listing the site on the National Register of Historic Places.  Blair Mountain is the site of a huge rebellion born of horrible working conditions in the southern coalfields, and the murder of a police chief who had befriended the miners.  I received an email yesterday (below) that made me think I should put this information on the front page.  Check out the Friends of Blair Mountain!  Here’s the email:

“The Blair Mountain battlefield in West Virginia is the site of the largest labor insurrection in US history. Currently, the site is threatened by mountain top removal operations, and extremely destructive forms of coal extraction practices, primarily in impoverished regions of Appalachia.

We have been attempting to get the mountain listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which we were successful doing for about a month until opposition from coal operators caused the mountain to be delisted. There were multiple discrepancies in this process.

Working with local citizens, The National Trust of Historic Places, Sierra Club, and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition have filed a petition asking the National Park Service to reevaluate the listing on the National Register.

More information containing all links to the press release, the petition, video of the disturbance, and a report on the disturbance can be found at our website, www.friendsofblairmountain.org

For us West Virginians, Blair Mountain occupies is an extremely significant place in our history, and we would like to preserve this site for future generations. If you follow the link above, there is information about how you can help us save Blair Mountain.”

Camp Branch mine by the Blair Mountain battlefield

Camp Branch mine by the Blair Mountain battlefield

Want to be a Guest Blogger?

Do you have an opinion about the Lattimer massacre?  …Or maybe a family story? …An idea about how to better remember the events before, during, and after the massacre?

If you want to share your thoughts, memories or ideas in a blog send your entry, along with pictures or file attachments if you’d like, to LattimerMassacreProject@gmail.com

Thanks!

Altmiller Diaries

Altmiller Diaries (Courtesy of and photo by Joe Michel)

Inventory of American Labor Landmarks needs your help!

Do you know of a labor landmark in your community?  Are there places that tell stories about working people and their achievements?  Check out the information below, passed on by the Labor Heritage Foundation.  The LHF is looking to catalog America’s labor landmarks and need your help locating them.

You will find contact and project information, an inventory of terms, criteria for inclusion, and lists of monuments, markers and heritage projects.  Click here for more: Inventory of Ameican Labor Landmarks Information

PHMC marker at the Lattimer massacre memorial

PHMC marker at the Lattimer massacre memorial (photo by Kristin Sullivan)