cover of book

The Road to Blair Mountain: Saving a Mine Wars Battlefield from King Coal
by Charles B. Keeney
West Virginia University Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-1-949199-86-4 | Paper: 978-1-949199-85-7 | Cloth: 978-1-949199-84-0
Library of Congress Classification F247.L8K44 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 975.4

“Keeney delivers a riveting and propulsive story about a nine-year battle to save sacred ground that was the site of the largest labor uprising in American history. . . . He unveils a powerful playbook on successful activism that will inspire countless others for generations to come.” —Eric Eyre, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic

In 1921 Blair Mountain in southern West Virginia was the site of the country’s bloodiest armed insurrection since the Civil War, a battle pitting miners led by Frank Keeney against agents of the coal barons intent on quashing organized labor. It was the largest labor uprising in US history. Ninety years later, the site became embroiled in a second struggle, as activists came together to fight the coal industry, state government, and the military- industrial complex in a successful effort to save the battlefield—sometimes dubbed “labor’s Gettysburg”—from destruction by mountaintop removal mining.

The Road to Blair Mountain is the moving and sometimes harrowing story of Charles Keeney’s fight to save this irreplaceable landscape. Beginning in 2011, Keeney—a historian and great-grandson of Frank Keeney—led a nine-year legal battle to secure the site’s placement on the National Register of Historic Places. His book tells a David-and-Goliath tale worthy of its own place in West Virginia history. A success story for historic preservation and environmentalism, it serves as an example of how rural, grassroots organizations can defeat the fossil fuel industry.

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