One Tank Trip: Mine Wars Museum

MATEWAN, WV (WOAY) – The museum showcases the history of the mine wars that took place here in southern West Virginia during the early 1900s when miners fought for their right to unionize.

The museum opened in 2014 in a small storefront, but was moved into a larger building across the street during the pandemic.

“So if people have seen the museum before when it was in the smaller space I think they will be really excited to see it in this expanded space,” said Mine Wars Museum Visiting Scholar and Volunteer Bobby Starnes. “The building that we are in is owned by a local 1440 the United Mine Workers and we collaborate with them on many parts of our work here.”

The artifacts on display show the equipment the miners used to do their jobs, the scripts they were payed in, and even the weaponry used during the battles. One of the favorite pieces on display is the badge of Sid Hatfield who was the sheriff during the battle of Matewan.

Not only does the museum show what the men in the mines went through, but they also have an exhibit to show what the women went through during these hard times.

“Often when we here the story of mines and miners we think it’s all about the men, but the women were really tough and they were really staunch union members in most cases,” Starnes said. “Because after all it was their sons, their brothers, their fathers, and their husbands who were going to be killed if the mines were unsafe.”

The museum is designed for visitors to walk through time starting in the early 1900s and work their way up to the march on Blair Mountain in 2011. The tours are self guided, but can be done with a tour guide both individually or in a group.

“The museum is open on Friday and Saturday from 11 AM until 6 PM or if you contact us we can open just about anytime,” said Starnes. “We can make an appointment and we are happy to do that and show people around. We are really proud of the museum and we think it is important that more people get here. So we will work with you if you need to make special arrangements to get in.”

To schedule a tour through the museum call 304-691-0014. For more information about the museum and directions visit their website.

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