The only time in U.S. history that bombs were ordered dropped on citizens, occurred in West Virginia !
Many events shaped the history of mining and organized labor, but none compare to the "Matewan Massacre" and "The Battle Of Blair Mountain". Follow along, explore the roads, sights, and stories of this history !
West Virginia Bound
Crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains on a cold winter morning always invites the chance for snow flurries. Luckily, the flurries fell the day before the trip, and since I was using gravel roads, dust was not an issue !
The pavement sections were covered in "black ice", so I didn't stop for many pics !
The scenery was excellent with the absence of leaves
West Virginia is full of gravel roads, and coal haul roads, that can be explored for days.
To fully understand the Matewan story, the roots of the central figure, Sid Hatfield, must be explored.
Sid Hatfield was the police chief of Matewan. Sid was known as "two gun Sid", a tough descendent of "Devil Anse Hatfield", legendary leader of the "Hatfield clan". The Hatfield McCoy feud had shaped Sid Hatfield into a tough man, and a reputation that could back it up.
The Hatfield cemetery is located on the Kentucky side of the Tug River, and historic in it's own right.
No gate, cable, or fence ? Must mean public access, right ?
With the right bike ! Very steep up to the cemetery !
The famous Devil Anse Hatfield, then
Roots of the "Matewan Massacre" ran deep in the union labor battle between miners and the mining companies. I will provide complete story links at the end of the Matewan section.
The Baldwin Felts detectives travelled to Matewan on a train from Bluefield, to remove miners from their homes, in retaliation for signing union membership cards. They had forgotten one little detail though, Matewan was incorporated, and they had no jurisdiction within the city limits, enter Sid Hatfield ! Seven agents were killed, and three residents, including the mayor.
The 1987 movie "Matewan" was actually filmed in Thurmond West Virginia, and of course, I've been there too !
View the video before explore the "Matewan Massacre" on 2 wheels, and look for the Thurmond buildings !
For the younger crowd
Matewan in 1920
The street where the shootings occurred is still gravel today !
Soon after the "Matewan Massacre", Sid Hatfield and others were indighted on false gun charges. When they walked up the steps to the federal courthouse in Welch, hired "regulators" stepped from behind the courthouse and shot him, even though he was unarmed !
Welch courthouse, and the actual steps of the shooting.
The anger of this shooting, combined with union labor issues, pushed the miners into a rage. This rage led to "The Battle of Blair Mountain", which will be explored next !
Complete Matewan story: