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Blair Mountain Disturbance Report

Blair Mountain Disturbance Report

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Published by Brandon Nida
Report by The Blair Mountain Heritage Alliance on recent disturbance at the historical battlefield, July 2010. From the Blair Community Center and Museum www.blairmountainmuseum.org
Report by The Blair Mountain Heritage Alliance on recent disturbance at the historical battlefield, July 2010. From the Blair Community Center and Museum www.blairmountainmuseum.org

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Published by: Brandon Nida on Jul 15, 2010
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07/20/2012

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ReportonDisturbanceattheBlairMountainBattlefieldPreparedbyTheFriendsofBlairMountainJuly11,2010Introduction
TheBlairMountainBattlefieldisthelocationofthe1921industrialconflictbetweenpro‐unioncoalminersandanti‐unioncoaloperatorsandtheiragents.Thebattlefieldstretchesovereightmilesasabirdflies,androughly14milesfollowingtheridgesofthebattlefield(seeimage1attheendofthisreport).Thebattlefieldcanbedividedintofourmajorsections,fromnorthtosouth;MillCreek,CrookedCreek,BeechFork,andBlairGap(seeimage2).TheCrookedCreek(CC)andBlairGap(BG)areas,accordingtoanarchaeologicalsurveyundertakenin2006,haveevidenceofheavyfighting.TheMillCreek(MC)areahadsomesignsofconflict,andalthoughthisevidencewasrelativelysmallcomparedtoCCandBG,thesurveywaspreliminaryandmoreworkisneededinthisarea.TheBeechForkareaismostlyunsurveyed.ThisreportfocusesonrecentdisturbanceattheBlairGaparea.Thehistoricalartifactsthatrelatetothebattleareburiedveryshallow;usuallywithinthefirst5‐6centimetersoftopsoil.Eventheslightestdisturbancehasthepotentialtodogreatdamagetothearchaeologicalrecord.FivelocationsintheBGareahavebeenimpactedbybulldozingactivity,includingonepreviouslydocumentedsite(46LG205)onfileattheWestVirginiaStateHistoricPreservationOffice,onepreviouslyunsurveyedsitethatshowsevidenceofbeingpartofthe1921defensivefront,andtwoundocumentedsitesthathavenotbeensurveyedbutwhichhavegreatpotentialforbeingsignificantelementsinthedefensivelineandoverallbattle.Disturbanceatallareas,exceptforthelastonediscussedinthisreportisthoughttobefromthesameeventsthatareestimatedtohaveoccurred3‐6monthsago,withtheearliesttheycouldhaveoccurredbeingafterlastfall.Thisconclusionisbasedontheobservationsoflocalcitizensandmonitorsaswellasthelackofgrowthinthebeginningofthissummer(withmostsproutsbeing3‐4inches),andthenacomparisononemonthlaterwherethesiteswerefoundtohaveshowngrowthwithgrasses,weedsandothersmallplantsstandingroughlyafoottall.The
 
lastsitediscussedinthisreportseemstobefromadifferentevent,onethatisestimatedtobefromaslateasthiswinterorspring.Thisisbasedonobservationofmonitors,andthefreshnessofthecuttreestumpsatthesitewhichhavenotshownquiteasmuchsignsofweatheringasattheothersites.
DisturbedSite1
ThefirstlocationthatdisturbancewasdisoveredatisasiteintheBlairGaparea.ThissitewaspreviouslydocumentedbyKennethKingin1999,withasitereportturnedintotheWVSHPO.Itiswithinthebattlefieldboundaries,whichhasbeendeclaredeligibleforlistingontheNationalRegisterofHistoricPlaces.Itislocatedonaknollthatisroughly400metersnorthwestofthesitecalledNorthCrest1a.ThissiteisnearagravelroadthatisthemainaccessrouteinthenorthernpartoftheBGarea.Asmallerdirtaccessroadrunsfromthegravelroad,directlybySite1,actuallycrosscuttingtheeasternpartoftheknolluponwhichSite1islocated.Artifactshavebeenfoundonbothsidesofthedirtroad(seeimage3).Theknollhastwospinesrunningfromit,oneinawesterlydirection,andtheotherinanorth‐northeastdirection.TothesoutheastoftheknollistheheadofahollowthatrunsdowntoWhiteTraceBranch.Thisheadofthehollowsplitsintwodirectionsleadingtotheknoll–withonehollowleadingtoagaptothenorthoftheknoll(perpendiculartothenorthspine).Thesecondleadstoagapsouthoftheknoll,andthentoahollowthatrunsparalleltothewesterly‐runningspine.Asdocumentedbythe1999sitereportsubmittedbyKennethKing,numerousartifactsrelatingtothebattlewerediscoveredatthesite.Mr.Kinguncovered,recorded,andputbacksixoftheseartifacts,andlefttherestundisturbed.Ofthesesixartifacts,allwere30‐06rounds;fivewerespentcasingswhiletheotherwasaliveround.AllhadtheheadstampREM‐UMC1906.AsdescribedbyKinginthesitereports,thislocationwas“coveredinverythickvegetation,mostlyhuckleberrybushes,mountainlaurel,greenbriers,andyounghardwoodtrees…”,andatthetimeofthissurvey,theknollwasundisturbed.Butinthelast3‐6months,thisundisturbedsitehasbeenbulldozedthroughthemiddle,leadingfromtheabove‐mentioneddirtroad.Thisbulldozedsectionis
 
approximately28metersinlengthand4metersinwidth.Midwaythroughthissection,anothersectionisdisturbed,departingfromthemaindisturbedareaandrunning12metersnorthandwithanapproximate3meterswidth.Thisdisturbedarearunsdirectlyontopofthecenteroftheknoll,anddirectlythroughthecoordinatestakenfromthe1999sitereport.Thedisturbanceconsistsoftheremovalofthetopsoilandtheuprootingoftrees.Now,thereareafewgreenshoots6‐12inchestall(asofJuly2010),withonly3‐6inchesgrowthinearlyJuneof2010.Overall,verylittlenewvegetationhascameback,leadingourmonitorstobelieveithashappenedsincethispreviousfall,afterlastyearsgrowingseason(seeimage4).Whilethisremovalofthetopsoilmayseemsuperficial,thearchaeologicalrecordofthebattleiscontainedwithinthetop5‐6centimetersofthetopsoil,andsoanydisturbancecandestroytheartifactsandtheinformationthatcanbegainedfromscientificinvestigation.Althoughthisbulldozinghasdestroyedsomeofthesite,therestoftheknollalmostcertainlycontainsmoreartifacts,andthissiteshouldbeprotectedsothatmoreofthearchaeologicalrecordisnotdestroyed.Overall,thissitestillhasahighdegreeofintegrity.Thisandthenextthreeareasdescribedbelowareoutsideofanyknownexistingminingpermit.
DisturbedSite2
DirectlydownthehilltothesouthofSite1isagapthatformsonepartoftheheadofWhiteTraceBranchhollow.Apreviousarchaeologicalsurveydocumentedtheminers’approachasfollowingthishollowtothenorthofBlairGap,insteadofrunningstraightthroughBlairGapwheremachinegunswereemplacedonNorthandSouthCrest.BothbranchesofthehollowheadruntoSite1,witheachformingthesouthernandnortherngapssurroundingtheknoll.Iftheminersdidattemptanassaultnearhere,itwouldhavemostlikelyoccurredatthispoint.Therefore,thissite,aswellasSite1,areextremelysignificantinunderstandingthedynamicsofthebattle.Butthisgaphasbeendisturbedrecently,mostlikelyatthesametimeasSite1.Aloggingroadrunsoverthehilltothewest,wheretheminerspossiblycouldhavemadeabreakthrough.Thisisinaccordancewiththepatterningofbullets

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