15th anniversary of Somerset’s Quecreek Mine rescue will be celebrated
The 15th anniversary of the dramatic rescue of nine Somerset County miners trapped some 240 feet underground for 77 hours in July 2002 will be celebrated this year with several events, including a tour of the site where the shaft was drilled to bring the miners above ground.
A community celebration featuring entertainment, food and children’s activities is being planned for July 29 at the Quecreek mine rescue site along Haupt Road, according to Anna Weltz, a spokeswoman for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau in Ligonier, which is helping to coordinate the event. It will include tours of the rescue site and the telling of the story about the rescue of the trapped miners, Weltz said.
The rescue of the miners — who became trapped in a flooded mine on July 24, 2002 — drew national and international attention. State agencies and private companies worked side by side in the rescue, working around the clock to drill down to a location where officials believed the men could be reached. Gov. Mark Schweiker announced late on July 27 that all nine miners were found alive; they were lifted to freedom one at a time in a metal cage late on July 27 and continuing into July 28.
The massive rescue effort occurred about 10 miles from the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, which plowed into an abandoned strip mine site near Shanksville as passengers fought terrorists who had taken over the plane during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The festivities will begin on July 26 with a sporting clay shoot at Seven Springs Mountain Resort to raise money for the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, which oversees the mine rescue site, which includes a statue of a miner and a visitors center.
A media gathering is planned for July 27 at the Dormel Farm, which is the site of the mine rescue shaft.
Bill Arnold, owner of Dormel Farm, plans to reach out to those miners who were rescued at the site and invite them to the events, Weltz said.
Tens of thousands of people have visited the rescue site, according to the foundation.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or [email protected].