Story line and photos contributed by Steve Stolarik
for news coverage of the Sept. 8th 2012
dedication ceremony by WTRF TV
The Coal Miner's Story (flier)
Coal Miner's Memorial after unveiling on Sept. 8th 2012
Plaque commemorating the Coal Miner's Memorial.
Byesville Scenic Railway volunteers at the Sept. 8th 2012 dedication ceremony
During the heyday of coal mining in our area from
the 1870's to the early 1940's, the coal mines of our nearby communities were "deep
mines" in which the miners worked underground. During this period more than 400 men lost their lives
working in these mines, while countless others were injured for life. In 2007 we began collecting donation funds from
patrons aboard our excursion train for the purpose of erecting some type of
memorial dedicated to the coal miner. No memorial for the coal miner existed in the State of Ohio,
other than the bucket from the Big Muskie dragline, which is associated with the
modern process of strip mining.
Our initial fund raising involved some bake sales and working with the Byesville Rotary on chicken BBQ sales of which they would they would share half of the profits with non-profit organizations. Some donation of monetary funds came from speaking before service organizations like the Rotary, church groups, etc....
After seeing an "I Gave" button (below) that the coal miners used during relief
times, a button was designed to hand out for those train patrons who donated
towards the coal miner's memorial fund. The button (at top) depicts a grey slate
rock above and below a black seam of coal. The "I Gave" portion was made in
yellow to represent the sun which shined on the lycopsid trees from 330,000
million years ago when they decayed and eventually turned into coal. The words
BYESVILLE OHIO was purposely given a red color in recognition of all the blood
that was spilled by the miners by the way of mine accidents or deaths.
Miner's Relief button from years past, which served as the inspiration for our coal miners memorial button.
Our coal miners memorial button, which is given to any visitor who donates to our coal miners memorial.
In 2009 we commissioned Alan Cottrill, of Alan Cottrill Sculpture Studio & Gallery from Zanesville Ohio, to compose a life size image of a coal miner from the suggestions of members of BSRW memorial committee. Stipulations were made that the miner would be wearing attire from the early 1900's and adorned with a carbide cap light, an old oil wick lamp at his feet, and the miner would be holding a Edison/Wheat lamp in his hands. This idea was to include the three generations of coal miners. The price of the bronze statue would be in the $40,000 range not including the base that would be needed to affix the statue to the ground. A small maquette (below) was presented to the committee of which represented the general stature of the statue and its components.
In January of 2012 a clay version in life size detail (below) was shown to committee members and after a few minute changes the O.K. was given to proceed to the bronze stage. You will notice the miner is missing his right index finger- this represents those miners who suffered some type of injury or physical disfigurement, as many miners did. Although not visible in the photos below, the miner will be wearing a special miner's "check tag" with the number "382" stamped into it. This significance of this number is that it represents the 382 men that were killed working in the deep mines of Guernsey County. The miner's bucket that he carried was one from the Buckeye Aluminum Co. out of Wooster Ohio. Also to be included would be a black powder box, a pick, a shovel, and even a rat (rats were not uncommon in the mines, and the sight of rats fleeing an area underground would alert the miners of a impending roof collapse).
The clay version
would eventually go to a rubber mold stage, and then a durable casting that would hold
the bronze image. On February 27th of 2012 the mold of the statue went to Cottrill's bronze foundry, Coopermill Bronzeworks Ltd. where co-owner Charles Leasure poured the molten bronze material into the casting.
The casting was allowed to cool
for some time before being relieved from the mold, after which began the process piecing
together the statue.
Photo taken 3-5-2012 at the foundry. Welding of the bronze sections.
Photo taken 2-29-2012. Taken at the foundry. Cart loaded with some of the 38 pieces that will make up the statue. Photo taken the day after the bronze was poured in the castings. Pieces were sandblasted and edges ground down waiting to be pieced together.
Photo taken 2-28-2012 at the foundry. Marguerite holding center of the carbide cap lamp onto the cap and upper torso.
Photo taken 2-28-2012. Bronze two halves of the upper torso placed side by side at the foundry.
Photo taken at Cottrill's studio. Shows rubber mold that was layered over the clay torso. The rubber was covered in plaster for firmness. Plaster sections cut apart and put back together to accept a wax filling of the area.
Photo taken at Cottrill's foundry. 2-27-2012. The wax chest half was covered in a heat resistant slurry. The wax was melted out of the mold. The mold then filled with hot liquid form bronze. After the piece cooled off the white colored casting was broken off of the cooled down bronze revealing the right side of the chest.
Photo taken 2-27-2012 at the foundry. The head section, still covered with the slurry solution, cooling off so it could be broken off with a sledge hammer to reveal the bronze casting.
Hot liquid bronze being poured into the castings. The casting had to be preheated and sat in a sand box to allow for slow cooling.