By ROBERT A. DEFRANK
News-Herald Staff Writer
HOPEDALE – The Harrison Coal and Reclamation Historical Park is planning its 16th annual dinner and auction on April 17 at the Hopedale Social Hall; celebrating the area’s coal mining history and spreading an interest in preserving the tools and stories of the past.
John Winnenburg will serve as the speaker. He is a member of the Southern Local School District and active in the Little Cities of Black Diamonds program to promote the stories of South Perry, Northern Athens and Eastern Hocking counties of Ohio where extraction of coal, oil, clay and iron ore significantly impacted the lives of that area since the late 1800s.
The importance of keeping the past alive is high on their list of priorities.
“What interests our park members and others, is seeing what this organization is doing to bring back to life all the little towns that sprang up there,” said President Claren Blackburn. “They flourished in the 1800s and 1900s for many years and then lost their livelihood as the mines stopped working and families left.”
This year, they have sent invitations to the area’s coal companies to buy a table. So far, they have received confirmation from Rosebud Mining, Hopedale Mining and Murry Energies.
“The response has been very, very good,” Secretary/Treasurer Marilyn Monzula said. “It does bring people who are interested in mining aspects.”
The dinner and auction is the park’s main source of revenue and pays for its insurance and other expenses. They also participate in the annual Stumptown Steam Threshers at New Athens every September.
The main goal is to acquire its own land for the park. Currently they lease from Consol Energy.
“We’re hopeful we can get land donated to us,” said Blackburn, adding that their own land will open up access to federal grants and other funding. “Until we actually get our own land it’s tough to develop anything.”
Although hopes of obtaining the giant Silver Spade were lost when the shovel was scrapped in 2008, they have gained several salvaged pieces including the 75 ton bucket and the Bucyrus-Erie sign; the latter was donated to the Puskarich Library.
The HCRHP is also dedicated to preserving and adding to their hall of fame, focusing on people who have been involved in mining for many years. They would also like to further develop the park to focus both on surface and underground activity.
The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the buffet at 6:30 p.m. followed by a park update. Tickets are $15 per person. Please contact Blackburn at 740-937-2460 for reservations or tickets may be purchased at the door.
A variety of choice items will go on the block this year, including mining jacket decals, a set of 12 Hanna news magazines, stickers, a coal jacket, framed photos including one of the Georgetown preparation plant, all donated by Dale Davis. Don Richards has donated several jars filled with ballast saved from the Silver Spade, also a milk bottle from the Hillcrest Dairy and some Hanna glasses. Monzula will provide homemade wine. The Hopedale VFW 7477 has donated an American flag. Columbus Equipment has donated a 1:50 scale die cast model Komatsu excavator.
George and Marsha Bedway have donated six oil painted canvas panels done by their uncle Tony Bedway, in the 1980s as display pieces during the international mining and manufacturing festival in Cadiz during the 70s, 80s and 90s.
More auction items are expected, some arriving at the last minute.
To donate, contact Blackburn or Monzula at 740-942-3895.