Coal Country Tours and the Shepherd University Lifelong Learning Program have teamed up to offer panhandle residents a chance to learn about the West Virginia mine wars and the Charles Town treason trials through a six week course and an optional three-day West Virginia Mine War Tour. Classes begin Sept. 9, meeting each Monday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. through October 14, at Erma Ora Byrd Hall on the Shepherd University campus.
The course will be a survey of the West Virginia Mine Wars 1900-1922 and will cover the early coal operators, life in the coal camps, the United Mine Workers and Mother Jones, the 1902 New River Strike, the Baldwin Felts Detectives & the mine guard system, the 1912-13 Paint Creek & Cabin Creek Strike, the Ludlow, CO strike, the 1919 miners' march, the "Matewan Massacre," the 1921-22 Mingo County Strike, the assassination of Sid Hatfield & Ed Chambers, the Battle of Blair Mountain, and the 1922 Charles Town treason trials. The class will be conducted by Doug Estepp who has been an ardent student of the mine wars for over thirty years and who is the owner/operator of Coal Country Tours. The class will also include a viewing of director John Sayles' film, Matewan, and the final class will be held in the Jefferson County Courthouse courtroom where the 1922 treason trials took place.
A West Virginia Mine War Tour will also be offered to anyone interested (participation in the class is not required) and departs from the Shepherd University campus on Friday morning, October 4th returning the evening of Oct. 6. This tour will be conducted using passenger vans and participation will be limited to afford comfortable travel. Destinations include the Tamarack Cultural Center, the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, the Whipple Company Store, a tour of Matewan including a program with actors portraying events associated with the "Matewan Massacre," lunch with active and retired coal miners, a tour of the Blair Mountain battlefield, a visit to the McDowell County Courthouse in Welch, and a tour of the town and mansions of Bramwell, WV, once famous as "the home of millionaires."
The cost of the tour is $349 per person, based on double occupancy which includes transportation, two nights at Twin Falls Resort State Park Lodge, all admissions and entry fees, guides, and lunch at Tamarack, lunch in Matewan, and a buffet lunch at the Bramwell Cafe. For information on the class or to sign up for the tour, contact Karen Rice at the Shepherd University Lifelong Learning Program at 304-876-5135 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't miss this opportunity to learn about this incredible state and local history.