‎100 years ago today

‎100 years ago today, on the night of February 7, 1913 the infamous “Bull Moose Special” incident took place at Holly Grove near the mouth of Paint Creek. The Bull Moose Special was an armor plated Camp O locomotive, passenger car, and freight car that was armed with two machine guns that was used to intimidate striking miners on Paint and Cabin Creeks and to haul scab labor up the creeks. Early in the day Baldwin Felts guards stationed at Mucklow had gotten into a couple of battles with strikers in the tent colony at Holly Grove who got the better of them. The guards notified authorities in Charleston which led Kanawha County Sheriff Bonner Hill, coal operator Quinn Morton, and a couple dozen deputies, mine guards, Camp O special agents, and Baldwin Felts detectives armed with high powered Winchester rifles to board the Bull Moose and head toward Holly Grove. The train arrived at the mouth of Paint Creek shortly before midnight. All the lights were extinguished and the train quietly and slowly approached the tent colony at Holly Grove. The miners had anticipated this and had evacuated the women and children but their intelligence led them to believe the train would arrive later.

As the Bull Moose passed through a cut in the mountain the engineer gave two short toots on the whistle at which time the men aboard opened up on the tents lining either side of the track at point blank range with a fusillade of machine gun and rifle fire. The miners were caught by surprise but soon regrouped and began returning fire. The engagement grew hotter and when a bullet clipped a finger from the engineer’s hand he steamed up and proceeded up the creek. Morton is said to have demanded that he back up so they could give the miners another round. In its wake the Bull Moose left one miner dead, Cesco Estep who left a widow and infant child and a neighbor woman with machine gun bullets through both legs. Sarah “Ma” Blizzard and other miners’ wives were said to have moved up the creek afterwards where they pried up rails to prevent the Bull Moose from returning. This event became one of the most notorious events of the WV mine wars.

Photo of the Bull Moose Special at Holly Grove

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From:Coal Country Tours

Published in: on February 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm  Comments Off on ‎100 years ago today  
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