The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 31, 2012

Mine rescue artifacts reunite

SOMERSET — People wanting to relive the dramatic Quecreek Mine rescue will soon be able to do that at one location.

The Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation and Windber Coal Heritage Center recently announced an agreement to consolidate equipment and artifacts from the 2002 mine rescue and display them at the foundation’s visitor center at the rescue site north of Somerset.

“Bringing together equipment and other artifacts from the Quecreek Mine rescue in one place will further enhance our ability to educate the public about this incredible event,” said the foundation’s executive director, Bill Arnold. “This is the spot where a miracle happened, and it makes sense that everything be here.”

The idea to combine the exhibits came about in July during the 10th anniversary celebration at the rescue site.

Arnold, U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, and John Garcia of Rosebud Mining Co., which owns the heritage center, discussed how they could make that happen, and within a few weeks plans for the transfer were in the works.

“John (Garcia) and I put our heads together to plan and research how to disassemble the exhibits and not damage them taking them from Windber to here,” Arnold said. “We are currently installing the exhibits, and they are fitting in the building nicely.”

The 4,800-square-foot visitors center was completed in July to coincide with the rescue anniversary. It housed some memorabilia such as the yellow rescue capsule that brought the nine men trapped in the flooded mine to the surface and a drill bit that was broken during attempts to reach them.

Five major exhibits are coming from Windber along with 60 artifacts including a sample of the water that inundated the mine and the blue denim shirt and loafers worn by then-Gov. Mark Schweiker while guiding the rescue effort.

The completed exhibit is expected to be open to the public around Thanksgiving.

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.

For more information on the exhibit, call 445-5090 or visit www.9for9.org.

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