Greene County Coal Miners Memorial

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Two men inside a coal mine
Two men inside a coal mine
Photo credit: Public domain

At the Greene County Coal Miners Memorial along Interstate 79, a plaque memorializes miners who died in a brutal underground explosion.

The mining disaster happened about two miles from the Frosty Run Shaft of U.S. Steel’s Robena Mine in Carmichaels, PA in 1962.

The text of the marker follows.

John L. Lewis, President

United Mine Workers of America

1920 to 1960

Greene County, Pennsylvania

proudly dedicates this monument

to all coal miners

On December 6, 1962, 460 feet directly beneath this site,

37 miners lost their lives in the U.S. Steel

Robena Mine’s Frosty Run Explosion –

one of the worst mine disasters

in Greene County history.

U.S. Steel’s Robena Mine in Greene County was fully mechanized. It was thought to be safe. U.S. Steel was considered to have one of the best health & safety records.

Early Saturday afternoon on December 6, 1962, ventilation fans were shut down at Robena Mine. Coal dust & methane gas built up deep in the mine. Hundreds of feet below ground, mining equipment threw a spark that ignited the gas. The mines were connected by tunnels. The explosion knocked down men working underground two miles away. It killed 37 miners. 133 miners got out alive.

“It was awful. (The mine) was all tore up. Five-inch (steel) I-beams were twisted like horseshoes,” one of the rescuers told TribLive years later.

The Robena Mine disaster was one of a series of deadly mine accidents that led to the Mine Safety & Health Act in the late 1960s. For the first time, compliance with U.S. mine safety laws was mandatory. More frequent inspections by federal officials was required.

Each year on the anniversary of the deadly explosion, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), which represents coal miners, holds a memorial service at the Robena Monument on Route 21, just west of the former Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station, which was a coal-fired power plant. The Robena Monument is about ten miles from the Greene County Coal Miners Memorial. The monument recognizes the 37 people who died at Robena. The memorial service keeps a promise made by the UMWA never to forget the men who died. “This service reminds us year after year of the sacrifices of these men for a common good no matter how tragic it was,” Edward Yankovich, Vice President of UMWA International District 2, said.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the 58th anniversary of the disaster was marked virtually. “This year we weren’t able to have the annual memorial event in person but that did to not stop us from remembering this tragic time,” the UMWA posted to their website.

The Greene County Coal Miners Memorial is located at the PA Welcome Center on Interstate 79. Welcome Centers offer information on regional attractions, travel or accommodations. They’re open from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM seven days a week, including most holidays. A lot of people can see it the memorial.

There must of been a lot horribly grieving family members here at that time. … why is a national union leader’s likeness on this monument.

Posted to Tripadvisor by scottofhawaii

The Greene County Coal Miners Memorial is at the Garards Fort/Kirby exit, which is five miles north of the West Virginia border.