Passenger Train fight

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sat Dec 1 09:51:50 EST 2007

Immigarnt workers in the Southern West Virginia coal fields in the early 1900s had relatively little to do with union activities. The simple fact was there was no labor to be had as the rapid opening of coal mines took place. There was little local population to draw from and so most of the labor was imported. This included Negros who came to work on railroad construction and constituted a major labor force in the mines as they left railroad construction (as the railroad was finished) and became miners. McDowell County population jumped from 18,747 in 1900 to 47,856 in 1910 as more mines opened and more immigrants came for the jobs. You can trace the evolution of the population on a yearly basis by looking at the number of miners employed on a yearly basis. You can also trace the nationalities country by country.

The simple fact is people were looking for work and the coal fields offered it. The immigrants continued to come until immigartion was essentially cut off during World War I. BY 1920 the population of McDowell County jumper to 68571 and then to 90,479 in 1930 before the rate of increase slowed down.

Since many of the immigrants were from Eastern Europe and spoke a version of a slavic language they didn't have as much trouble communicating as some may have thought.

Alex Schust

----- Original Message -----
From: NW Mailing List
To: mailing-list at
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2007 9:47 PM
Subject: Passenger Train fight

Another reason for the different nationalities is to keep the Union out. People could not speak the language and were dived ed into their little groups, fearfull of each other when the real enemy were the coal mine operators. The old divide and conqueror.
K. Borg

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