Date of Graduation


Document Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Ronald L. Lewis

Committee Member

Kenneth Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

Michael Workman


The Elk River Coal and Lumber Company and its president, Joseph Gardner Bradley, built the town of Widen located in Clay County, West Virginia. As coal production proved successful, the coal town rapidly grew and by 1950, Widen offered amenities such as a Y.M.C.A., theater, soda fountain, schools, and churches for the diverse composition of miners to enjoy. In 1952, a fifteen-month strike marked the climax of the history of Widen. The struggle between the local union, known as the League of Widen Miners, and the United Mine Workers of America, resulted in the destruction of company and private property, physical assaults, a general reduction of law and order in town, and eventually, the death of a non-striking miner. Although successfully fending off the UMWA, Bradley sold the mine in 1958 and it eventually closed in 1963. The town has been slowly deteriorating ever since and hardly resembles the booming coal town of yesteryear.