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Matewan Floodwall

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1994–1996, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Northeast bank of Tug Fork River between Mate Creek and the west edge of Matewan

Although not exactly a building, this largescale project is certainly architectonic. The wall itself consists of massive concrete panels, with illustrations cast into them. Perhaps surprisingly, the artwork is located on the river side, facing Kentucky, but is best seen from a pedestrian promenade on the West Virginia side. Beginning at the wall's northwest end, panels illustrate the region's flora and fauna, pioneer settlement, timber harvesting, a train, the Matewan massacre, a flood, traditional coal mining, and, bringing the story up to date, strip mining. The wall facing Matewan is embellished with stylized piers and arches. Open sections of the wall allow pedestrians to go from one side to the other, except, of course, during floods.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


What's Nearby


S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Matewan Floodwall", [Matewan, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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