News Column

Artifacts donated to miners' display

May 5, 2014

By Greg Larry, Cumberland Times-News, Md.

May 05--FROSTBURG -- Numerous mining artifacts, on loan from Carlos resident Charlie Walker, a collector of mining relics, have been added to an exhibit currently on display at the Frostburg branch of the Allegany County Library System.

"When it came to light about them raising money for the miner's statue, I thought I would help out," said Walker.

Designed to raise awareness for the fundraising project called the Coal Miner Statue Fund, the display will be rotated to various libraries in western Allegany County.

To pay tribute to the miners who work the underground coal beds that stretch from Mount Savage east into West Virginia, a group of Frostburg area citizens organized to try to raise around $60,000 to have a life-sized bronze statue of a miner created and erected at the intersection of state Route 36 and U.S. Route 40.

"They gave a lot. It was dirty, cold and dangerous work," said Walker.

On the committee to raise funds for the miner statue are Ellen and Moose Arnone, Ray Walker -- Charlie's brother -- and Barbara Armstrong. After having a small 18-inch model of the statue known as a maquette made, the organization set toward raising funds for the full-scale statue. A brochure was recently completed for the project called "Adopt A Miner."

"It will be dedicated to the natural resource of George's Creek Valley coal and the sacrifices made by those who mined it," the brochure says.

Charlie Walker added soft and hard hats, oil lamps, script, buckets, dynamite boxes, lunch buckets, mining powder and squibs, carbide and methane lamps and more to the display.

"I've been collecting since the 70s, when I found my first lamp," said Walker.

Ray Walker said the coal business boomed from the mid 1800s to around 1940.

"There were 2,500 miners in this county at one time," said Ray Walker.

Donors can adopt miners by selecting a name off of a list of around 500 miners who lost their lives in the mines between 1870 to 2007. The "List of Deceased Miners" is a chilling reminder of how dangerous the work was. The following is a sampling of the entries from the list, which sometimes listed the miner's number of dependents.

-- David Lewis, died 9/10/1877, Astor Mine, crushed by a fall of coal

-- Ernest Horseman, died 9/16/1880, Jackson Mine, kicked by a horse

-- Edward Kerns, died 1892, Ocean Mine, crushed between coal cars

-- Maurice Winebrenner, died 4/9/1898, Ocean Mine 1, fall of roof coal

-- Joseph Ritchie, died 9/27/1902, Hoffman Mine, Fall of breast coal, 9 dependents

-- John Nolan, died 2/18/1903, Appleton Mine, crushed between coal cars, age 21

"It was rough work. A lot of them had black lung too," said Walker.

Walker said the miners were major contributors to getting the Normal School No. 2 -- the precursor to Frostburg State University -- built in Frostburg. Construction began on the school in 1898 and it opened its doors in 1902.

The members of the project wished to thank Betty Van Newkirk, retired from the Frostburg Museum, for her help in researching the history of the mining industry in the area.

The project is also collecting mining stories from individuals who have knowledge of the mines or the miners. To find out more about Adopt A Miner, email Donations can be mailed to: The Foundation for Frostburg/CMMSF, P.O. Box 765, Frostburg, MD, 21532.

Greg Larry can be contacted at


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Source: Cumberland Times-News (MD)

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