This month marks the 1st anniversary of the miraculous rescue of the nine coal miners at Quecreek No. 1 Mine in Somerset, PA. One by one the nine miners were brought to the surface at 15 minute intervals until the last one emerged 78 hours after the water broke through. It all began at 8:50 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24, 2002 when water rushed into the coal face at 1st Left Section and the crew from 2nd Left barely managed to get out of the mine. When word got out that nine miners were trapped, the ensuing rescue captured the hearts of millions of people worldwide.
Just 45 minutes after the last miner, Mark Popernack, was raised from Quecreek No. 1 Mine through the 240-foot deep Rescue Shaft One, a press conference was held in the disused supermarket, near Wal-Mart, in Somerset, PA. Coal Leader was there to report to its readers on the event and witnessed first hand the electric atmosphere which existed. Later, the September 2002 issue of Coal Leader, which was devoted entirely to the rescue, was held up in the hand of a member of PA Bureau of Deep Mine Safety at a meeting in Harrisburg and described as the best and most accurate description of the rescue. In addition, an official from MSHA said that the Coal Leader timeline of the events was used as the model for constructing the timeline in the official MSHA report of the incident. Itís good to know that Coal Leaderís accurate reporting is of value to its readers.
Since the rescue, ABC-TV has produced and aired a movie The Pennsylvania Miners Story. The Discovery Channel has produced and repeatedly aired a documentary Miracle in the Mine. Most national news agencies and magazines covered the story extensively and nearly half a dozen books have been published about the rescue with Disney securing the motion picture rights to the event. In addition, over 50,000 people have visited the rescue site at Dormel Farms, where the Quecreek Mine Rescue Memorial Monument for Life is being established. And what of the nine Quecreek Miners themselves? Two have returned to work underground, one is thinking about it and six are suing their former employees.
For a short time, the very best in the mining industry came together in the rescue of the Quecreek Nine in an extraordinary event with extraordinary stories being told of all the people who united to help. Meanwhile in 2002, the other 76,000 coal miners working daily in 720 underground mines and 760 surface mines quietly produced 1.093 billion tons of coal, thus, providing low cost electricity to more than half the country and contributing to the high standard of living of every American. As we pause to reflect on the memory of the Quecreek Rescue, it is appropriate to remember too the substantial contribution that all those employed in the coal mining industry make to their country every day.
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