Coal history remembered

HOPEDALE – Framed photos, some with shovels used earlier than 1943, with bronze markers describing the large coal moving shovels, comprised many of the auction items at the Harrison Coal and Reclamation Historical Park Inc. banquet held Saturday.

The event was held at the Hopedale Social Hall with a paid attendance of nearly 100 former miners – those in an administrative capacity, those in construction and those just interested in mining equipment.

Roger Sliva of Adena, in the coal moving business for 40 years, explained the names and locations of the shovels pictured. He started in the business with the McKim Mining Co., working for Boich Mining and Consolidated Coal and was present to video the demise of the Silver Spade shovel, one of the largest earth moving pieces of equipment. He worked the mammoth shovel as well.

He told the names of some of the shovels, such as the Egypt Valley Tiger A shovel, Georgetown Green Hornet B shovel, New Athens Ground Hog C shovel and the West Farms D shovel. Of all the shovels, the Silver Spade, known to many in Harrison County and areas beyond, was the one the coal reclamation park committee wanted for an attraction in its park, or the area where it had gone down shortly after Feb. 15, 2006. This was not to be, but the committee did get part of the shovel for display after it was demolished with explosives.

Many of the shovels are highlighted in the book, “History of the Coal Mining Industry in Ohio,” with several on the auction block at the dinner.

Christopher Bise, head of the mining engineer program at West Virginia University, attended the dinner for the first time. He got his start in the Rose Valley Mining area.

Dale Davis, committee vice president, gave the welcome, and Bill Frontz gave the invocation. Claren Blackburn, president, gave the introductions.

Kerry George, author of “Black Damp Century” spoke of the hazards miners faced and the union problems over the years. Thomas Wallace of Adena was the auctioneer, and Marilyn Monzula, secretary, was honored by the group for her work with the coal mining industry group.