The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 23, 2013

Subdued anniversary expected for Quecreek

SOMERSET — It’s been 11 years since nine miners were rescued from the Quecreek Mine, and a small observance will be held to mark the occasion.

The ceremony, which is open to the public, will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, located at 140 Haupt Road in Somerset.

The Boy Scout troop from Sipesville will conduct a flag ceremony, followed by some local speakers.

“It’s going to be greatly subdued from last year,” said Bill Arnold, the foundation’s executive director. “We put so much effort into the 10th anniversary that now we want to kick back and just enjoy another anniversary.”

The dramatic rescue began July 24, 2002, after miners broke through a wall into an abandoned, water-filled mine, flooding the Quecreek Mine with more than 150 million gallons of water.

Nine miners were able to escape, but nine more were trapped. The trapped miners were rescued four days later, on the morning of July 28, through the combined efforts of state and federal mine rescue agencies and hundreds of workers and volunteers.

What makes this year special is that the days fall exactly the same on the calendar as they did in 2002, meaning the 24th was a Wednesday and the 28th a Sunday.

“We’re more than happy to celebrate every anniversary of when all 18 men were rescued – nine who were able to get out themselves and the nine who needed extra help from above,” Arnold said.

Plans are already in the works for the 15th anniversary celebration.

“We’re in the preliminary stages, but we’re on the trail to another milestone,” Arnold said.

Last year, the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation and Windber Coal Heritage Center came to an agreement to consolidate equipment and artifacts from the mine rescue and display them at the foundation’s visitor center.

The 4,800-square-foot visitors center houses memorabilia such as the yellow rescue capsule that brought the nine trapped men to the surface, a drill bit that was broken during attempts to reach them and the capsule used in the Disney movie “The Pennsylvania Miners’ Story.”

The visitors center is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The Monument for Life Memorial Park is open daily from dawn to dusk.

More information is available by calling 445-5090 or visiting www.quecreekrescue.org.

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