Jul 23 2012
The week of July 23-28 marks the 10th anniversary of the miraculous rescue of nine coal miners from the flooded Quecreek Mine near Somerset, Pennsylvania in 2002.
The anniversary will be remembered in a week-long series of special events and commemorations culminating on July 28 with the anniversary ceremony at the mine rescue site.
"The rescue was a miracle, there's no other way to describe it," said Bill Arnold, Executive Director of the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation and the owner of the family farm where the rescue took place. "People from all over the world have come to learn about the rescue, what coal mining is all about and how everyone worked together to save the lives of the miners."
On July 24, 2002 miners broke through into an abandoned, water-filled mine flooding the Quecreek Mine with over 150 million gallons of water. Nine miners scrambled to safety, but nine were trapped in a pocket of air in the dark, cold, water filled mine. They were rescued four days later through the combined efforts of state and federal mine rescue agencies and hundreds of workers and volunteers.
"The Quecreek Mine Rescue is a celebration of life, community and determination," said Arnold. "A community of people -- coal miners, state and federal rescue workers, coal companies and Somerset community volunteers -- came together to achieve a single objective -- rescuing nine men trapped 190 below the ground and return them to their families.
"It is a tremendous example of determination and the Pennsylvania spirit to never give in to overwhelming odds, that is why we are calling this celebration 'The Triumph of the American Spirit,'" said Arnold.
The schedule of special events to mark the anniversary include:
- July 23: Media Day - Quecreek Mine Rescue Site;
- July 24: Industry Day - Featuring Center Rock, Inc. maker of some of the rescue equipment;
- July 25: Community Day - Special events starting at 4:30 p.m.;
- July 26: Miners' Reunion - Meet the Rescuers Day;
- July 27: 10th Anniversary Development Dinner with Silent Auction & Basket Raffle. 5:30 p.m. Reception, 6:30 p.m. Dinner (tickets are $50 each, available by calling 814-445-4876);
- July 28: Celebration Ceremony featuring Gov. Mark Schweiker and other officials involved in the rescue, 11:00 a.m.
Today more than 10,000 visitors a year visit the rescue site looking to learn more about the "Quecreek Miracle." The site became part of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Historical Marker Program in 2006. The site also an affiliate of the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh in 2010.
"Since the first year after the rescue we were overwhelmed by all the interest—we just ran a dairy farm before all this," said Arnold. "We are grateful for all the help we receive from the public, our community and many public and private agencies to present the site to the public."
The Quecreek Mine Rescue site is just 11 miles from where the September 11, 2001 crash of Flight 93 which cost 40 passengers and crew their lives.
"These two events-- the tragic crash of Flight 93 and the miracle of rescuing nine trapped miners at Quecreek-- represent the extremes of our human experience," said Arnold. "The loss of innocent life, but the heroism of the passengers as they fought for their lives. The shock of the accident that flooded the Quecreek mine and the miracle of the rescue."
The Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization that relies on support from the public to educate the public about the rescue and to maintain and operate the mine rescue area and a visitors center.
Contact the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation or make a donation by writing: 151 Haupt Road, Somerset, PA 15501, calling 814-445-4876 or by visiting www.9for9.org.