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Exhibit on Darr Mine disaster set to open

An exhibit on the Darr Mine Disaster will be held Dec. 12 to 19 at Fells United Methodist Church, 800 Fellsburg Road in Rostraver.

The event is sponsored by the Rostraver Historical Society.

The exhibit will be open 2 to 9 p.m. daily.

To kick off the exhibit, opening remarks will be delivered by event chairmen Steve Gluz, who was born and raised in Jacobs Creek. Ray Washlaski, an historian and editor of patheoldminer.rootsweb.ancestry.com.

“The biggest mine explosion in the state, and they haven’t done anything to preserve it,” said Gluz, a retired steelworker who is chairing an event Saturday Dec. 12 to draw attention to the Darr Mine disaster of Dec. 19, 1907.

Amy Arrigo will exhibit more than 200 hundred mining artifacts from her late father Henry Indof’s “Blood Sweat and Tears” collection. The exhibit will also include 10 oil paintings of the Darr Mine tipple, rescue team, sky ferry and miners.

The Darr Mine was operated by the Pittsburgh Coal Company.

On Dec. 19, 1907, a methane gas and coal dust explosion ripped through the mine, killing 239.

In related news, Petitioners plead for coal plant closure.

A four-day investigation concluded the explosion was presumed to have occurred in an area of the mine that had been cordoned off, but a group of miners had entered carrying open lamps.

But Gluz questions the investigation conclusions and believes more miners were killed in the disaster than the official record reflects.

The Darr Mine Disaster was the deadliest in Pennsylvania history.

The explosion occurred on when, according to the Julian Calender, Greek Catholics and Orthodox observed a major feast day, St. Nicholas, and nearly 200 Darr miners who chose not to go to work that day due to the saint’s day, were spared.

“The best way to honor those who lost their precious lives is to uncover the truth behind this horrible event and build a memorial on the Darr Mine sight with the names of all lost,” Gluz said. “The Darr miners need a monument for their sacrifices.”

Currently, there are monuments to the Darr Mine Disaster by the old freight railroad station in Van Meter, a display created by the Belle Vernon Rotary Club in the vicinity of the mine and an historical marker on road leading to the mine.

No one knows for certain how many people were killed when a late morning methane and coal dust explosion ripped through the dark tunnels of the mine. United Mine Worker officials said more than 300 men went into the mine that morning, but the Pittsburgh Coal Co. said the death toll was 200 or less.

Many bodies were never recovered, said historian Ray Washlaski, who believes the death toll was higher than numbers published in newspapers at the time. (c)2015 The Valley Independent (Monessen, Pa.)

This article was from The Valley Independent, Monessen, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.