Demystifying the Hidden Hand: Capitalism and the State at Blair Mountain

Here is a draft of a paper on the archaeology and importance of Blair Mountain, discussing some of the larger lessons that we can learn from the battle written by Brandon Nida

Brandon Nida is a doctoral student in archaeology at UC Berkeley writing his dissertation on Blair Mountain.



Citizens Criticize Financing of Surface Mining At Blair Mountain

Citizens rallied today to call on Morgan Stanley to review their financing of Arch Coal’s Adkins Fork surface mine permit and other operations at the Blair Mountain battlefield in Logan County, WV. The battlefield is the site of the largest labor conflict in US history, and is deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Mountaintop removal mining at Adkins Fork would threaten the history and tourism potential of the area, as well as adversely affect the watershed and the health of the nearby community of Blair.

Brandon Nida, an organizer with the Blair Mountain Heritage Alliance says, “Morgan Stanley has one of the strongest reputations for responsible lending. We are asking that they review their relationship with Arch Coal and ask Arch to drop the Adkins Fork and other permits that would impact the Blair Mountain battlefield.”

“The Adkins Fork permit would destroy an extremely important part of the Blair Mountain battlefield, one of the only portions we know for certain was occupied by the miners,” stated Kenneth King, a local resident and longtime preservation advocate. “If surface mining is allowed at the battlefield, our heritage will be erased along with the potential for long-term tourism around the site.”

The town of Blair has already been depopulated over the last decade and its water supply heavily polluted due to previous surface mine operations.

“The Adkins Fork permit is right over our heads here in Blair,” says Carlos Gore, a resident of Blair. “I’ve seen my community pretty much destroyed, and I don’t want to see any more damage. Constant blasting, dust rolling off the site, machinery at all hours of the night, and people getting sick is what is going to happen if they surface mine around here again.”

According to sworn depositions from Arch Coal employees, Arch’s executives during the 1990s “knew dynamite blasts and huge earth-moving machines…would make life so miserable for many Blair residents that they would want to sell their homes and move.” Once the residents sold, they were required to sign an Option to Purchase document that barred them from living or owning property in a 25 square mile area near the mine at Blair.

The rally corresponds with an investor risk document released by Rainforest Action Network titled Arch Coal, the Blair Mountain Battlefield, and Bank Human Rights Commitments. The report details the investment risk involved in financing companies that engage in surface mining operations such as the Adkins Fork Permit at Blair Mountain. Activists attempted to present the report in person, but were prevented by building security.

According to the report, the Adkins Fork permit and other surface mining in the Blair area violates Morgan Stanley’s Environmental Policy Statement, their Statement on Human Rights, and the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

“We want to show how putting your money in risky operations such as the Adkins Fork permit is not just morally wrong, but is a good way to lose your money. With Arch’s stocks plummeting to historic lows and their credit score near where Patriot Coal’s was before their bankruptcy, we think banks and investors have much smarter places to put their money,” says Brandon Nida.

March 5 – Rally to Stop MTR and Save Blair Mountain

Rally to Stop MTR and Save Blair Mountain

Join us March 5th to put pressure on the banks funding Mountaintop Removal operations like the Adkins Fork permit at the historically recognized site of Blair Mountain.

Meet up at the Riverfront Park at Kanawha Blvd East and Summers St in Charleston, WV at High Noon!! We will march a half-mile to Morgan Stanley’s Charleston branch, where we will have a rally to stop MTR and the destruction of Blair Mountain!!

Watch our video explaining why the Adkins Fork is so harmful.

Without financing from banks like Morgan Stanley, companies such as Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources would not be able to engage in the destructive and harmful practice of Mountaintop Removal mining.

It is time to demand that these financial institutions be held accountable for the human rights violations they are engaged in. We will be rallying at Morgan Stanley’s branch in Charleston in order to demand that they live up to their promise to ‘do the right thing‘.

Funding the destruction of communities, mountains, heritage, and health is not the ‘right thing’!!

Wear your red bandanas! Bring your signs!

For more information:

On our larger campaign focused on the Adkins Fork permit:

On the practice of MTR:

On the health impacts of MTR:

On the banks that are funding MTR:

On Morgan Stanley’s Code of Ethics

Join a Working Group!!

Hello all!

Over the last few months, many of you have asked how you can be more involved. Well, now we have many ways for people to actively participate in the campaign to preserve Blair Mountain. Whether you live far or near, have a lot of time or very little time, there are ways you can help out.

If you’d like, read over our program outline below, and if you feel like you’d like to be part of one of the working groups, email us at

Mission Statement

The primary goals of the Blair Mountain Heritage Alliance are to preserve and raise awareness about the Blair Mountain battlefield and to work toward a sustainable and prosperous future in Blair and the larger central Appalachian region. Our overall work encompasses researching and addressing issues such as environmental concerns, labor, history, education, equality, health, and economic development.


The BMHA functions as a grassroots organization that seeks to incorporate and serve the interests of the community. Our organization has multiple ways in which community members, volunteers, and core organizers pursue the goals stated in the mission statement.

Community Advisory Group: This is composed of members of the Blair community that advise and provide guidance for the steering committee.

Steering Committee/Core Organizers: This group is composed of core organizers with long-term experience working in the community of Blair, both in regards toward the preservation of the battlefield and community issues.

Working Groups

The groups are composed of volunteers who are able to participate with varying levels of engagement. Groups are bottom-lined by core organizers, and overall strategy is developed with the steering committee. The working groups are as follows:

- Permit Group: tasks are to track and monitor permits and to notify the larger group when important dates or milestones are coming up.

- Events/Outreach: this group is a broad one, working to put together events that raise awareness and help educate about the battlefield. From rallies, letter writing campaigns, artistic projects, historical research, this group has it all!

- Media Group: this group works to issue news releases through both traditional media and social media. If you do not have experience, some training is part of the experience!

- Fundraising: the is the group that keeps things moving! Help host fundraisers and events, or look through grants and help secure foundational monies. This is an important working group for sure!

- Clean Water Group: this group works to make sure safe water is available to the community of Blair and that water testing is being undertaken in order to ensure that pollution is not impairing the health and welfare of the community and environment.



Update: Photos from Blair Mountain


As part of our preservation campaign, we systematically monitor surface mine permits in the Blair area. We maintain and update our permit database with data from on-the-ground monitoring and through research on permit applications. Part of our mission is to provide various stakeholders with the most current information about what is happening with each permit we are challenging.


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Click HERE to see these pictures more closely

These photos are part of this effort, and were taken today. They show the Camp Branch permit (which is an Alpha operation) and the Left Fork permit (Arch operation). The Camp Branch is winding down operations, and we have successfully held them 1000ft away from the battlefield boundary. The Left Fork permit is a complex one, with some mining in the late 80s and early 90s, but with areas near the battlefield just being opened up.


Both permits are important!! Stay tuned as we provide updates and challenge these operations from moving forward.


Letter Writing for Adkins Fork – NOV. 23!!!


Dear friends, we are currently initiating a directed campaign to challenge and block Arch Coal’s attempt to renew the Adkins Fork permit at Blair Mountain. This permit is one of the most significant, as it lies in the heart of the battlefield and is the permit closest to the town of Blair.









This will be a tough campaign, and we will need all the help we can get. The first part of this campaign is the easiest. We need everyone to write a letter and send it to the WV Department of Environmental Protection by November 23. It is best to handwrite these letters, but we know not everyone can do that, so we have written out a form letter below. Print it, sign it, and stick it in the mail!


As we move forward with this campaign over the next few months, we will have a series of events and drives that you can come out to or that you can participate in at home. Some of the events will be spread out across the nation, so even if you are not in West Virginia you can pitch in.


If you would like to stay informed, please sign up on our mailing list, join us on twitter, follow us on facebook or send us an email at


REMEMBER, the letters need to be received by Nov. 23!!! Let’s get this campaign off to a bang and SAVE BLAIR MOUNTAIN!!!






Blair Mountain Heritage Alliance