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Approximately 275 witness Mammoth Mine Memorial unveiling

| Saturday, Oct. 5, 2002

MOUNT PLEASANT - The sun was shining, a breeze was blowing and approximately 275 people sat in silence Friday morning as political and other such dignitaries spoke at the Mammoth No. 1 Mine memorial unveiling in Mount Pleasant Township.

Shortly after 9 a.m. on a Tuesday, Jan. 27, 1891, a gas explosion in the Mammoth No. 1 mine killed 107 men and boys.

The mine was owned by H.C. Frick Coke Co. at the time, and the explosion was labeled as one of the worst mining disasters in the nation's history.

Five years ago, the Mount Pleasant Township supervisors made the decision to restore the mine, which is located about 100 yards to the rear of the Mount Pleasant Township Municipal Building. The building was actually the Frick lamphouse for the mine.

The memorial ceremony was held to top off five years of work and $15,000 worth of renovations to the Mammoth No. 1 Mine portal.

"We decided to save the mine in 1998, and it was in very good condition," said Ray Zimmerman, secretary for the township board of supervisors. "The only thing that was done to the inside was that it was whitewashed and power washed."

State Sen. Allen Kukovich said the remembrance of our history and where we came from was important.

"I'll be damned if I'm going to be morbid about this," said Kukovich. "I'm here to celebrate. This is what America is about. This is what we should be proud of.

"In a time when we're starting the 21st Century and so many things divide us . . . it is this remembrance of our history, it is these ties, that tie us together in this society to make us unique," he continued.

State Rep. Jess Stairs challenged other communities to find out their history. "If you don't know where you came from, there's no way you'll find where you want to go," he said.

Presentations of a plaque mounted with a piece of coal from the Mammoth No. 1 Mine were made to different historical institutions, including West Overton Museums and Westmoreland Historical Society.

A monument erected at the mouth of the portal, which contains all the names of those lost in the disaster, was unveiled at the end of the program.

"The people of Mount Pleasant Township should be proud they have this lasting memorial," said Zimmerman. "Seven out of our 10 villages are a direct result of the coal mining industry."

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