Whipple Junction in Fayette County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
Labor Strikes and Conflicts
— Coal Heritage Trail — National Coal Heritage Area Interpretive Site —
The 1912-13 Cabin Creek-Paint Creek Strike began the first major conflict of the West Virginia Mine Wars. If you look to your right, toward Carlisle, the Paint Creek watershed is just a mile or so down the road. This two-year conflict was fought for wage increases as well as the end of the use of guards, black-listing, and the denial of workers’ rights to free speech and assembly. Over two years, bloodshed mounted until Governor Henry Hatfield forced a settlement, giving the miners a wage increase and the right to unionize, but not eliminating the dreaded mine guard system. Although this strike was settled, dissatisfaction continued until the 1921 Miners March and the Battle of Blair
Labor strikes and agitation continued through the decades, as unions fought to improve conditions for coal miners and their families.
The Whipple Company Store. The Whipple Company Store was as much a fortress as a store. The rounded entrance, designed to simulate the portal of a mine, secretly provided the Baldwin Felts guards a hiding place on the ther side of the entrance. The central plate glass window was a reflective surface, alerting the hidden guards of who was approaching. The building’s original steps were narrow and had no handrail, requiring those who ascended to come up sideways, slowing them down.
Inside, the guards had other advantages. The acoustics were manipulated in such a way that all sound was directed from the outer walls to the center of the main building—so that anyone standing in that central spot could hear anything said in the building, Stand inside the square at the center of the building and listen to how well you can hear voices in the large room.
Mother Jones. Mother Jones was a passionate and fiery orator. This feisty Irishwoman began her union organizing career at the age of 60. An organizer for the UMWA, Mother Jones paid particular attention to West Virginia, promising that when she died she would tell God about “medieval
A History Mystery. The Whipple Company Store is indeed an imposing structure. And it contains some mysterious aspects. There is a secret second floor in the building which has no windows and only five foot-high ceilings. It was used to house coffins until the 1930’s. It cannot be seen from the outside of the building.
Other items in the building will be sure to pique your curiosity. If you look carefully on the wall of the stairway, there is a gray rectangle. Interestingly, when photographed, an image appears in the picture that is unseen just looking at the wall. Upstairs in the adornment room, there are two pieces of wood set in the floor. Every other piece of wood is one long length, but these two pieces were set in with wooden nails. When removed, a tintype of a little girl who died in the room was found. Why was it there?
All of these things and more can be found in a tour of the building. Why were they there? It’s
Location. 37° 57.507′ N, 81° 9.947′ W. Marker is in Whipple Junction, West Virginia, in Fayette County. Marker is at the intersection of Okey L Patterson Road (West Virginia Route 612) and Scarbro Road (Local Route 1/5), on the right when traveling east on Okey L Patterson Road. It is across from the Whipple Company Store and Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7485 Okey L Patteson Rd, Scarbro WV 25917, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Disaster Underground (here, next to this marker); Community Life in a Coal Camp (here, next to this marker); The Coal Barons (here, next to this marker); The White Oak Valley (here, next to this marker); Oakwood Mine Complex (approx. 1.4 miles away); Oak Hill Railroad Depot (approx. 1.6 miles away); Glen Jean Athletic Club (approx. 2.2 miles away); DuBois High School (approx. 4.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Whipple Junction.
More about this marker. This interpretive panel contains three images. Clockwise from top: The Whipple Company Store. A portrait of Mother Jones captioned, “Mary Harris Jones, known to the miners as Mother Jones.” and a photograph captioned, “Baldwin-Felts mine guards at the Collins Colliery in Glen Jean, W.V., 1902.”
Also see . . . Atlas Obscura entry for Whipple Company Store. “The building’s strange octagonal shape was designed as a means to control the workers, for the store’s one employee could stand dead-center in the store, surrounded by its cases and shelf-lined walls, and the room itself became an echo chamber, providing the company with all the intelligence it needed to maintain the upper hand over its workers.” (Submitted on September 26, 2019.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Labor Unions • Natural Resources •
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Credits. This page was last revised on October 2, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 26, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 58 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 26, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.