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Old 11-23-2008, 11:44 AM   #1
dlrides OP
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Appalachian History On 2 Wheels - Coal Miners Bombed !

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





and now






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 !



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For the younger crowd



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Sid Hatfield




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:

http://www.matewan.com/History/battle2.htm
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Old 11-23-2008, 11:57 AM   #2
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Good stuff! I always like ride reports exploring little known history. Thanks for the ride

Waiting for "the rest of the story"
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:10 PM   #3
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Another great one, Don! Thanks!
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:32 PM   #4
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Thanks for another magical history tour!
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:39 PM   #5
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Don and DeBandi are THE history ride report kings of ADV!!!


Battle of Blair Mtn., one of my favorite Appalachian events.

You guys bring history to life! Many thanks. Keep it up
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:33 PM   #6
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Great job and a good history lesson. Thanks.
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:42 PM   #7
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:52 PM   #8
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GREAT background & write up Don.

I learn something every time I read one of your reports.

Looking forward to the upcoming Battle Of Blair Mountain.

Thanks mel for the kind words.





Quote:
Originally Posted by mel brooks
Don and DeBandi are THE history ride report kings of ADV!!!


Battle of Blair Mtn., one of my favorite Appalachian events.

You guys bring history to life! Many thanks. Keep it up
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Old 11-23-2008, 04:00 PM   #9
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Hurry up, This trip is great,I'm in Canada awaiting the snow ro melt,
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Old 11-23-2008, 05:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlrides
The only time in U.S. history that bombs were ordered dropped on citizens, occurred in West Virginia !
I think Philadelphia was bombed about 20 years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOVE
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Old 11-23-2008, 05:23 PM   #11
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Cool report , thanks. I've heard that machine gun shell casings from the battle can still be found on Blair Mt.
Just something to think about when considering the "turbulent" times we live in now.
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Old 11-23-2008, 05:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nec
I think Philadelphia was bombed about 20 years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOVE
The difference was Philly state police dropped a bomb from a helicopter on a single house.

West Virginia alone bears the distinction of having been the focus – and potential target –of military aircraft.

http://www.pawv.org/news/blairhist.htm
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Old 11-23-2008, 07:37 PM   #13
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Thanks for the comments !

Machine guns, warplanes, abandoned railways, creek crossings, and battle trenches are yet to come !
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Old 11-23-2008, 08:43 PM   #14
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Damn Good Report, Don! I look forward to Memorial Day weekend, so we can hit another History Ride!!!


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Old 11-24-2008, 07:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boojum
Damn Good Report, Don! I look forward to Memorial Day weekend, so we can hit another History Ride!!!


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What he said! I've recovered from Memorial Day Weekend 2007 sufficiently to keep up with you once again, Don. .....I think.

Fantastic job! If you and DeBandi and David H never write a book about all this stuff, you should seriously pursue an adjunct professorship at an appropriate college or university with a strong history department. Keep all your notes.
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