News Column

Events to mark anniversary of Quecreek rescue

July 25, 2014

By David Hurst, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.



July 25--JOHNSTOWN -- When word spread that nine Quecreek miners were trapped underground in July 2002, Bill Arnold's dairy farm quickly became the rescue effort's ground zero.

Twelve years later, his growing Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation museum will celebrate the dramatic rescue on the same site this weekend.

Arnold says guests new and old will quickly see the changes the foundation's museum has been through in the past year, including the addition of truckloads of items donated by Rosebud Mining from the recently-closed Windber Coal Heritage Center in Windber.

"Our mission will always be to tell the story of the Quecreek rescue -- after all, this is the rescue site," Arnold said. "But as time marches forward, it's become clear that many of the adolescents who visit us have no idea about this region's rich mining heritage -- or even why people go underground to mine coal."

Rosebud's donation has brought generations-old mining tools, such as lanterns, uniforms, pick axes and other items to Arnold's rescue museum.

It has brought other keepsakes, too, such as souvenirs from King Coal's heyday and even dinosaur fossils unearthed from coal seams, Arnold said.

He described the museum site and visitors center as a work-in-progress, but said both of its two levels are now in use.

Visitors will notice plenty of changes at the site since it opened three years ago, Arnold said.

His nonprofit foundation has built up the tribute site through years of donations -- and continues fundraising through its museum and online at quecreekrescue.org.

The Quecreek Mine story captured the public's attention nationwide during much of the 77 hours the nine miners were trapped underground after an accidental breach into an unmapped, adjacent mine flooded the area where they were working.

And TV cameras were rolling as all nine were pulled to safety, one-by-one, on the night of July 28.

The story still captivates and inspires, Arnold said.

The foundation's visitors center sees 10,000 visitors annually, he estimated, and the coming weeks are expected to be a busy time for his staff.

An annual flag ceremony will be held Saturday, when the nonprofit will retire this year's flag and add a new one.

Admission to the museum will be free all day and a cookout will be held on a deck alongside the building to celebrate the anniversary, Arnold said.

"We're telling people to bring the kids and enjoy it," he said.

"We're going to be here rain or shine to celebrate the mercies of God and that fabulous rescue 12 years ago."

Arnold said his foundation is looking for volunteers to help both inside and outside the museum and visitors center over the coming months. Those interested can email him at bill@9for9.org.

David Hurst is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @tddavidhurst.

If you go

What: Ceremony celebrating 12th anniversary of Quecreek rescue, featuring flag ceremony, cookout and free tours.

Where: Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, 151 Haupt Road, Somerset.

When: 10 a.m. Saturday.

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(c)2014 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.)

Visit The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.) at www.tribune-democrat.com

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Source: Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, PA)


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