SOMERSET, PA. Monument planned to miners, rescuers
The property owners say about 50,000 people have already visited the site.
SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) -- A $2.3 million monument, including more than 30 life-size bronze figures, is being planned by the owners of the farm where nine miners were rescued last year from a flooded mine after being trapped underground for 77 hours.
Bill and Lori Arnold have commissioned a sculptor in Washington, Pa., to produce the bronze figures for their planned "Monument for Life" park, which would remember the moment when the first of the miners was rescued early on the morning of July 28.
The rescue took place on a section of the Arnolds' farm, which has become a tourist attraction.
"People come, and they want to see it," Lori Arnold said. By the Arnolds' count, about 50,000 people have visited the site since the rescue, even though all that remains is the capped rescue shaft and the remnants of a cow pasture.
"We're going to let them [visit] and make it worth their while," she told the newspaper.
The four- to seven-acre monument site would include a visitors center, a garden with nine evergreen trees symbolizing each of the miners and an oak tree representing the community's strength. There would also be a plaque with the names of about 700 people involved in the rescue.
Trapped in flooded mine
The miners, who were working in the Quecreek Mine, were trapped July 24 when they breached a flooded, abandoned mine. Water from the old mine trapped them 240 feet underground until rescuers were able to dig a shaft to rescue them, pulling them up one at a time in a slim metal cage on live television.
The sculpture is expected to depict rescuers feverishly working and the moment when this first miner was brought up.
Fund raising for the monument is under way, and the Arnolds have established a nonprofit group called the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation to solicit contributions and operate the site.
Alan Cottrill, the sculptor, got the idea for a Quecreek piece while watching the rescue and contacted the Arnolds, who already had started developing plans for a park.
The Arnolds plan to have part of the park ready by July 27, the day before the one-year anniversary of the rescue, and the rest completed by July 28, 2004.