MATEWAN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum has announced the unveiling of its newest exhibit, a Miners’ Memorial dedicated to the memory of those who have been injured or killed while mining coal.
The public is welcome at the event, which kicks off at 1 p.m. this Saturday, August 6, at the United Mine Workers of America Local 1440 Union Hall in Matewan.
A special prize will be awarded to two people in attendance. Keith Gibson of Hatfield McCoy Airboat Tours has donated an exciting and fun-filled ride down the historic Tug River. Be sure to attend in person for a chance to win this prize.
Members of the community will also have an opportunity to build on the new exhibit by stamping a miner’s check tag in the memory of a coal miner, and adding it to the structure.
The memorial itself was inspired by a West Virginia Mine Wars Museum visitor, the daughter of a miner who died in an accident, who suggested that the museum devote space to honor fallen miners.
The event will also include ballad singing, stories from Mingo County residents, and remarks from a former coal miner and current West Virginia University historian, Dr. Paul Rakes, who writes about mine disasters. Rakes is also featured in a brand new video that provides historical context for the dangers of coal mining.
On Saturday, a geocache will also be placed on the memorial, and geocachers will hold an event on the site of the exhibit. If you’d like more information on how to take part in this scavenger hunt game, visit facebook.com/geocachematewan.
The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum is located in historic downtown Matewan. It has permanent exhibits on life in company towns, strikes, and battles that comprise the West Virginia Mine Wars — a twenty-year period of labor violence in southern West Virginia, in which coal miners fought company forces for their constitutional rights and independence.
The museum partners with local organizations, including Turn This Town Around Matewan, the Matewan Depot, the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce, and UMWA Local 1440. Its mission is to preserve and interpret artifacts and historical records of the local communities affected by the Mine Wars, exploring historical events from multiple perspectives through the lives of ordinary people.
This season’s hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on the museum, visit wvminewars.com or call museum secretary Catherine Moore at 304-663-2202.