United Mine Workers of America will observe the 50th anniversary of the Robena Mine explosion, one of the worst mine disasters in Greene County history, with a memorial service Dec. 6.
UMWA District 2 and Local 1980 will hold the service at 11 a.m. at the Robena Monument on Route 21 in Monongahela Township, just west of Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station.
The keynote speaker will be UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts.
UMWA organizes a rememberance ceremony every year to honor the 37 miners who lost their lives as a result of the 1962 explosion, which started about 650 feet below ground in the Frosty Run Shaft of U.S. Steel’s Robena Mine.
The force of the explosion was so strong it knocked down men who were working more than two miles away, witnesses said.
One hundred seventy men were in the mine at the time of the explosion.
The 37 miners who died were members of a continuous miner crew working in the 8 left 4 Main section.
The explosion is believed to have been caused by a buildup of methane gas, resulting from a temporary shutdown of ventilation fans. The gas was ignited by a spark from mine equipment.
The explosion at Robena was the worst mine disaster to have occurred in Greene County since May 19, 1928, when an explosion at Mather Mine took the lives of 195 miners.
Speakers at the annual service traditionally have spoken of the sacrifice of the 37 miners and the significance of their deaths in forcing Congress to pass new laws regarding mine safety.
A statement listed on the memorial service program each year expresses the union’s sympathy to the families of the 37 miners and speaks of the importance of the annual service. It concludes:
“We commit this solemn promise. To always hold on their behalf a service, at this location, on this day, so that the living shall never forget their sacrifice that helped bring forth strong health and safety laws to protect us all.”