August 17, 2015

A Quecreek Excursion

Readers who are not too terribly young are likely to remember the mine accident that occurred at the Quecreek Mine in the summer of 2002. Nine miners were ultimately rescued through a shaft drilled into an underground refuge where the miners had been trapped for several days. The attempted, and finally successful, rescue was covered by news media all over the world. I was particularly struck by the drama of the situation and wrote a poem telling the story of the accident and rescue. (You can read my poem, “The Quecreek Mine Disaster,” here. I consider it one of my better efforts.)

I have been meaning to visit the site of the rescue for years, but had not gotten around to doing so until two days ago. I had hoped to see not only the place where the rescue took place but also the “Educational Visitors Center” that supposedly exhibits, inter alia, the rescue cage that brought the miners to the surface. Although the Visitors Center claims to be open on Saturday, phone calls to it were answered only by a recording, and the door of the center was locked when I arrived at the nascent museum.

Fortunately, most of what I most wanted to see was out in the open and unobstructed by barriers. What I was able to view is documented below. (Click on images for a larger view.)

Historical marker
An historical marker stands at the entrance to the rescue site.
Miner statue (front)
Miner statue at the start of the path to the rescue site
Detail of miner statue
Detail of miner statue
Miner statue (rear)
Rear of miner statue
Path to rescue site
View of the rescue site from the brick path that leads to it
Air shaft
An air shaft was drilled where it was thought the miners might be.
Heated compressed air was then pumped into the narrow shaft.
Rescue shaft
Rescue shaft from which miners were lifted one-by-one in a rescue capsule
Monument to Rescue Shaft Driller
The rescue shaft was drilled by rig #18 of Gene D. Yost & Son, Inc., a fact memorialized on this stone.
The drill used by Yost was described as a “super drill.”
Abanded rescue shaft 2
When the bit broke as the rescue shaft was being drilled, another hole was started.
It was abandoned when work resumed on the first shaft.
Unused air lock
This air lock proved to be unnecessary and was never used.
Unused Air Lock
Another view of the air lock
Monument for Life plaque
Monument for Life plaque referring to the red oak and nine evergreens beyond it.
Memorial grove
Monument for Life plaque with red oak and nine evergreens representing the nine rescued miners.
Sipesville Volunteer Fire Company
Sipesville Volunteer Fire Company. This is just down the road from the rescue site. Families
of the miners were assembled here awaiting news of the rescue.
Monument at fire company
Monument to miners at Sipesville Volunteer Fire Company.
Its location can be seen in the previous photograph.

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