(05/07/2008)

Automobile driven by Charles Frame,
murdered during 1952 Widen strike

Photo courtesy of the widen film project

Kelley Thompson is one of West Virginia's outstanding new filmmakers. He has just completed "The Widen Film Project," on the rough and tumble mine wars of the 1950s in Clay County.

The film will make its world premiere on May 10th at the South Charleston Museum at 7 p.m.

The Widen union conflict lasted from about 1952 to 1957, with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) spending $500,000 and mine owner J.G. Bradley spending about $1,000,000.

The battle was over who was going to control one of the largest non-union mines in the Eastern U.S.

Widen was once proclaimed as the ultimate "corporate paradise" utopia.

One man was murdered, bridges were blown up, and eventually 200 miners lost their jobs in 1957 when a new company bought the mines.

J.G. Bradley, one of the most powerful coal mine owners not only in West Virginia, lost his 50 year war against the UMWA, leaving his adopted state forever.

Filmmaker Thompson has spent thousands of hours researching this film, which has some dark elements. Dozens of people tell their stories, people with connections to Widen, now a fading ghost town.

Thompson has used a number of clips from old films and historical stills in the production.

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See also the widen film project


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