The Official Website of the State of West Virginia

West Virginia Mine Wars Museum captures volatile time in state history


​​​​​This small museum located in an old bank building in Matewan covers a unique but little-known period in American and labor history known as the Mine Wars. 

These “wars” started in central West Virginia in the 1910s and culminated with the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain, in which approximately 20,000 fought, in southern West Virginia. A collection of immigrants, Black Americans from the South, and other residents of the various hollows located around the state joined forces to stand up against the mine guard system. 

The town of Matewan, politically independent of coal companies, served as a focal point for union organizers during this period and witnessed the “Battle of Matewan,” in which Sheriff Sid Hatfield got into a wild-west shootout with mining security.

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