Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘coal miner’

Coal Miner’s Statue -Unsung Heroes Remembered

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Those words rang true for the thousands of coal miners that lived in the vicinity of Guernsey County, Ohio during the early 1900s.

In order to honor these men and coal miners across the nation, a statue in their honor has been placed at the old train depot in Byesville, Ohio. This is no ordinary statue as it was commissioned by Alan Cottrill, internationally renowned sculptor, who has his studio in Zanesville.

The Train to Nowhere

These were busy tracks in their day, but today they have no traffic.

Why, you might ask, is this statue in Byesville? Why not place it in some larger city? Byesville was the coal capital of Ohio back in the early 1900s. Perhaps a hundred and fifty trains would roar down their tracks each day. Cars carried coal from Marietta to Cleveland and often into Canada.

coal_miners_memorial_09-08-2012_1

These volunteers were present for the dedication ceremonies.

Raising money for the statue was itself a challenge. Contributions came from local residents as well as all those who rode the now silent Byesville Scenic Railway. Total cost of this memorial was $40,000. So if you rode the train or visited their museum, perhaps you had a hand in making that statue become reality.

When you made a donation in any amount, you were given a badge saying:

I GAVE    COAL MINERS MEMORIAL    BYESVILLE OHIO

coal-mineres-memorial-badge

This was no ordinary badge as it was designed very carefully. Each color on the badge had great significance.

Yellow stands for a beam of sunshine that sheds light on the darkness of the dungeon of a dark and gray mine.

Gray is for the rock/slate layers that are found above and below the seams of coal.

Black needs little explanation as it is the color of coal, also known as black diamonds, buried sunshine, or rocks that burn.

Red is for the color of blood that was spilled onto the ground from those who either lost their lives or were injured while working about the mine.

Bronze Coal Miner Statue

Bronze Coal Miner Statue

Everything on this bronze statue has meaning.

His hat gave him a place to hang his carbide light. This was the only light down in those coal black mines. The miner had to purchase the pellets to fill his carbide light…at the company store, of course.The coal mines gave them nothing. Why, they had to buy their own picks and dynamite! 

If you look closely at the statue, the miner’s brass tag reads 382, the number of coal miners who lost their lives in the deep mines of Guernsey County over the mines’ sixty active years.

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The sculpture pieces in Cottrill’s studio wait to be assembled.

The miner statue is missing his right index finger in honor of all the men injured in the mines. The dinner pail he carries was made by the Buckeye Aluminum Co. and was an important part of the miners day.

Many of those miners were immigrants, often called dumb hunkies  Everyone headed out to work swinging their dinner pail. The pails could not be set down on the mine floor or the rats, the miners’ mascot, would open them and eat their lunch. So miners always hung their dinner pails high on the mine wall.

A West Virginia ham sandwich was quite the treat. That ham by the way was what we call bologna.They always left a little something in their pail, just in case a cave in occurred and they might be below ground all night. If they made it safely through the day, the miners would let the children have their pails on the way home for a little snack.

From top to bottom each item has special significance from his hat to the dynamite at his feet.

coal-miner-plaque

The dedication plaque at the statue

A portion of the plaque behind the statue states:

May the personal sufferings, sacrifices and the hardships endured by your families, never be forgotten nor taken for granted.

May the memory of these unsung heroes live on for generations.

The Coal Miner Memorial Statue can be found in Byesville, Ohio off I-77. Take Exit 41 and head into the small town of Byesville. Turn left on Second Street and two blocks down on the right hand side you will see the old train depot. The statue stands in front of the depot.

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Guernsey County History Museum Dressed for Christmas

guernsey-county-museum

Explore the history of the area by visiting Guernsey County Museum.

All 17 rooms at the oldest frame home in Cambridge have been tastefully decorated with a touch of the Christmas season. The Guernsey County Museum enjoys having people stop by to wander through its vast collection. Curator Judy Clay will escort visitors through each decorated room and explain the history of many of the artifacts that are left on display for the holidays.

The museum, the former McCracken-McFarland home, was moved down North Eighth Street, a half block from the corner, to its current location in 1915. Outside the house, the yard has some interesting features. There is a 4′ tall National Trail mileage marker, and the original steps from the 1823 house.

Many of the older generation from the area will remember Mrs. McFarland, a Brown High School English teacher, and Mr. McFarland, the banker who always wore a carnation in his buttonhole.

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Volunteer Madelyn Joseph stands by the pot-bellied stove in the one-room school room.

Recent additions to the museum include a room from a one-room schoolhouse showing desks and books used at that time. At the back of the room stands the pot-bellied stove, which appeared in some form in every one-room school to keep the room somewhat warm on cold winter days. On special occasions, retired teachers will describe the lessons and activities that happened in a classroom where one teacher taught all eight grades.

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Dave Adair tells the story of the difficult life of a coal miner.

Another added attraction is an entrance way to a coal mine. In the early 1900s throughout Guernsey County, over 5,000 people were employed in the mines. Here, Dave Adair, local historian, explains to groups the life of a coal miner and at this time of year presents “A Coal Miner’s Christmas”, telling how they celebrated Christmas with very little money. Most gifts were handmade or perhaps purchased at the company store – an orange or walnuts were special treats.

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Museum Curator Judy Clay explains the beautiful table setting, which includes Cambridge Glass and a Tiffany lamp overhead.

The home has been expanded and updated through the years without destroying its 19th Century charm. Many remember the time when homes had two sitting rooms – one for the family and the other to use only for special guests. While this was the first house in the area to have gas heat, they still read by candle light. Throughout the museum, you will see beautiful pieces of Cambridge Glass and Universal Pottery, as these two companies provided an important means of earning a living during the early years of Guernsey County.

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Friendly volunteers at the museum prepare for visitors by decorating the tree and preparing to serve refreshments. 

The walls in the hallway are covered with pictures of people who have made a difference in the area…the Guernsey County Hall of Fame. These community leaders have all contributed something special to make this world a better place.

guernsey-county-ice-bike

The ice bike made travel possible in the winter with its sharp prongs in the back and sled-like runner in the front.

Every room upstairs had a special theme. The Military Room contained items from Civil War days to WWII. A small sewing room held a spinning wheel and a weasel, which when it got filled with thread – went pop! That was the basis of the song, “Pop Goes the Weasel”. A dentist’s office, Dickens’ room, and rooms packed with antique ladies’ clothing finished off the top floor. The waistline on some of those dresses seems unbelievably small.

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This old mail cart actually carried mail from Cambridge’s Union Depot to the post office.

Bountiful treasures reside inside this old frame house. Perhaps you would like to roam the halls and revive some old memories. If you have any pieces of history you would care to share, please contact the museum. Every small town should take pride in having a special place to keep the history of their area alive for future generations.

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The angel topped Christmas tree is decorated with old ornaments trimmed with lace.

Holiday hours for the Guernsey County Museum are Tuesday and Thursday 4:00 – 8:00, and Saturday from 10:00 -8:00.  Admission is $5 per person. Come explore some old memories of days gone by.

The Guernsey County Museum is located at 218 N Eighth Street off Steubenville Avenue in Cambridge, Ohio. It’s on the street directly behind the courthouse.

 

 

 

 

The Train to Nowhere

The Train to Nowhere

The Train to Nowhere

A beautiful diesel-electric locomotive awaits on the tracks in the small town of Byesville, Ohio. At this point in time, it is called “The Train to Nowhere”, as it remains in place unable to move down the Byesville Scenic Railway due to circumstances beyond their control. But that doesn’t mean the spirit of the railroad isn’t alive here! It continues with a program called “The Coal Miners’ Story.”

Bronze Coal Miner Statue

Bronze Ohio Coal Miner Statue

As soon as you pull into the parking lot, the bronze coal miner statue catches your eye. The Ohio Coal Miner was sculpted by Alan Cottrill at Cottrill Sculpture Studio and Gallery in Zanesville, Ohio, and dedicated in September of 2012. This statue is a tribute to miners and their families in Ohio, as well as across the entire nation. The miner’s brass tag reads 382, the number of coal miners who lost their lives in the deep mines of Guernsey County over the mines’ sixty active years. During the past few years, all contributions given to the Byesville Scenic Railway during their train rides were dedicated to building this memorial statue, which actually cost nearly $40,000 to reach completion.

A portion of the plaque in front of the statue states: May your personal sufferings, sacrifices and the hardships endured by your families, never be forgotten nor taken for granted.

Sadly, the train is not able to chug down the track these days due to some issues over insurance and track ownership, but the volunteers at Byesville Scenic Railway are still sharing a unique presentation of life during the days when coal mines were booming in the early 1900’s. At that time, Byesville had 77 mines, and was considered to be “The Coal Mining Capital of Southeastern Ohio”.

Visitors are invited to take a seat on “The Train to Nowhere”, where they are given information regarding the 1917 train cars and the diesel locomotive. Back in the coal mining heyday, the train ran from Cleveland to Marietta delivering coal from Guernsey County mines. The Byesville Scenic Railway volunteers are optomistic that the train will be running again a few years down the track.

Dave Adair tells coal miners' stories.

Dave Adair tells coal miners’ stories.

In their “old greasy mechanic garage” – sometimes used as a movie theater room, the volunteers have constructed a makeshift mine of black plastic walls. It is here in Entry 7 South that a living history of a local coal miner is portrayed by volunteer, Dave Adair. He describes the harsh life of a miner as well as the poor home conditions. Beans and cabbage were two frequent items on their supper menu, with meat seldom being a part of their food supply. According to Miner Dave, “All were poor but no one realized it because all were the same.”

"I owe my soul to the Company Store."

“I owe my soul to the Company Store.”

Miners were very superstitious and often carried lucky pieces in their pockets. Over the entrance to the mine, a horseshoe was often placed. It had to be placed with the open side up so the luck wouldn’t run out with 100,000 ton of rock above their heads.

Treasures for families of coal miners and train enthusiasts can be found in the Company Store. A variety of gifts for young and old alike range from engineer hats and handkerchiefs to mugs and wine glasses. You won’t want to go home without a memory of those hard working miners.

Steve Stolarik explains Mineres Museum.

Steve Stolarik explains Miners’ Museum.

The Miners’ Museum has been developed in more recent years for the education of the general public. It contains a collection of original coal mining equipment used in the local mines. On the wall are displayed the various bits used to drill into the coal face to insert a stick of dynamite, which the miners had to buy themselves from the company store. Steve Stolarik was on hand to explain how the bits and lanterns functioned when the miners were deep in the mines. Included for display are numerous pictures of the old Guernsey County Coal Mines.

Keep your eye on the track to see when the “Train to Nowhere” will again be on the move. In the meantime, visit the website of Byesville Scenic Railway to see their scheduled events. Local train enthusiasts are singing hopefully, “I hear that train a comin’, it’s rollin’ round the bend.” 

Byesville Scenic Railway is located in Byesville, Ohio just off I-77 (Exit 41) south of Cambridge. Turn toward Main Street of Byesville, then left at the traffic light.  The train depot is one block on the right. Free parking is available along Second Street and Seneca Avenue. 

Spirit of Christmas on Byesville Scenic Railway

Spirit of Christmas seems to be a fitting name for a ride on the Byesville Scenic Railway, because after you hear the stories of the miners from long ago, you will definitely appreciate the Christmas of today.

Accompanied on this trip by Miner Dave and Miner Steve, the hour train ride passed by twelve abandoned mines where about five hundred men worked underground.  However, in the area there were seventy seven deep coal mines with approximately five thousand men working.

The train track here was busy back in the early 1900’s with perhaps one hundred fifty trains going down the tracks on a busy day.  Their regular routes went from Marietta to Cleveland, but they went North as far as Canada.

Since it was the Christmas season, Miner Dave asked if there were any teachers on board. Then he selected a lady to read “The Night Before Christmas” as the train went down the track.  Miner Dave did appropriate sound effects as well as scene effects behind her back, which made for an amusing reading.

Young people are remembered in the mines as children often started working at the age of eight, with their parents’ consent, especially if the father had been injured. Someone had to work to pay their $12 a month rent as otherwise their family would have no place to live.

They did indeed, as Tennessee Ernie sang, “Owe my soul to the company’s store.”   They were paid in tokens that could only be spent at the company store.  So if the family needed an item, they would charge it there, then the man of the family would pay for it on payday.

Miner Dave explained that only men worked in the mines as it was thought that women would bring bad luck. They worked about 175 days out of the year. There was no welfare in those days, so they had to use credit…at the company store. For this most dangerous job in the world, there was no insurance and no vacation. There were definitely no atheists working in the mines.  They all believed that someone was watching over them.

How did you know if you were to work each day? At 7:15 each evening, everyone would listen for the whistle at the mine. If it blew once, there would be work tomorrow; twice, maybe and listen again at 4:15 in the morning; three times, no work the next day.

All nationalities headed out to work swinging their dinner pail. The pails could not be set down on the mine floor or the rats would open them and eat their dinner.  So miners always hung their dinner pails high on the mine wall. A sandwich made of West Virginia Ham was quite a treat – that ham, by the way,  was bologna. They always left a little something in their pail, just in case there was a cave in and they might be below ground all night. If they made if safely through the day, the miners would let the children have their pails on the way home and enjoy a little snack.

On Christmas Eve a hundred years ago, the mines would close early for the day at 4:30. Since there was no money for gifts, a stop at the company store might allow them to get an orange or some walnuts for the children. Often they would break a limb off a tree and either stick it in a can or in holes in the handle of a broom. This they would decorate with rags, bittersweet, popcorn, ribbon or berries.

Everyone would go to sleep early that night and be up to go to church on Christmas Day in their cleanest bib overalls. When they arrived back home, there would be one or two gifts under the tree. Gifts were often wrapped in newspaper, and then tied with rags and decorated with sprigs of berries.  Most were gifts made with love, and all Made in America.

Byesville is the coal mining capital of Ohio and their plans are to erect a monument to the coal miner at their station in downtown Byesville. When you give a donation, you are given a badge that explains the mining story.

The colors on the badge are symbolic of life down in the coal mines.

Yellow stands for a beam of sunshine that sheds light on the darkness of the dungeon of a  dark and gray mine.

Gray is for the rock/slate layers that are found above and below the seams of coal.

Black needs little explanation as it is the color of coal, also know as black diamonds, buried sunshine, or rocks that burn.

Red is for the color of blood that was spilled onto the ground from those who either lost their lives or were injured while working about the mines.

Someday soon the Coal Miners’ Memorial Statue Fund will reach its goal and the efforts of all the workers and their families will be recognized.  Coal miners helped make our country what it is today and will never be forgotten.

Now you better understand why the Spirit of Christmas should be alive in your heart today and all through the year. Charles Dickens expressed this in A Christmas Carol when  Scrooge said:

I will honor Christmas in my heart

and try to keep it all the year

May the Spirit of Christmas roll on!

Byesville Scenic Railway is located in Byesville, Ohio just off I-77 (Exit 41) South of Cambridge. Turn toward Main Street of Byesville, then left at the traffic light.  The train depot is one block on the right. Free parking is available along Second Street and Seneca Avenue. The train operates most weekends during the summer months as well as for special holidays throughout the year.

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