Somerset Travel Blog

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The day I went with the boyscouts to the Flight 93 crash site, we also went to the Quecreek mine memorial. They are about 13 miles from each other. There is a lot more to the story than I wrote but basically this is what happened.I included a poem that was written about the incident.

On July 24th,2002, coal miners at the Quecreek mine in Somerset Pennsylvania, accidently dug into the abandoned , poorly documented Saxman mine. The mine filled with water. One group was working in the 1-Left panel and used the mine's phone system to warn another group of miners that were in the 2-Left panel, to evacuate. The water was coming in too rapidly for them to move. The water continued to rise.Rescue operations started immediately while millions of gallons were being pumped out of the mine.As pumps worked to discharge the floodwaters from the rapidly filling mine shaft, engineers and surveyors worked to pin-point the presumed location of the trapped miners, translating subsurface mine maps to locations at ground surface.Finally, hours after a hole 30 inches in diameter was drilled, rescuers were able to lower a cage down to where the men had been waitng in anticipation for 77 hours. At 2:45 a.m. on July 28, 2002, the last of the nine men was pulled up. These are their names in the order they came out. .

  • Randall Fogle
  • Harry "Blaine" Mayhugh, Jr.
  • Thomas "Tucker" Foy
  • John Unger
  • John Phillippi
  • Ron Hileman
  • Dennis J. Hall
  • Robert Pugh, Jr.
  • Mark Popernack


The Quecreek Mine Disaster

by Lionel E. Deimel

The C Prime Seam ran out to Somerset,

And mining coal was long a practice there;

The Quecreek mine was but the latest hole

Where Pennsylvanians laid the black rock bare.

The team of nine was working Wednesday night��"

A practiced group with decades underground;

Unwittingly, they cut into a wall,

Where water-filled, abandoned halls they found.

On maps, the Saxman mine was not too close��"

Those maps, through guile or carelessness, had lied;

One miner ran to find the telephone;

To miners far away, “Get out!”  he cried.

The passage out led down, then up again,

So men and water shared a swift descent;

But water won the frenzied downward race,

And men knew what the flooded chamber meant��"

No longer was escape a goal to seek,

For life itself became their only thought;

To higher ground they crawled back up in pain;

Against cascading flood, they bravely fought.


They tied themselves together with a rope,

And so would live or perish as a team;

If dying was to be their lot that day,

They’d find their rest together in that seam.

At last, they reached a summit in the mine,

Whose ceiling, from the waters, was unwet;

Their pangs of terror turned to thoughts of death,

Unmindful of events in Somerset.

The miners’ plight, of course, was known above

By townsfolk yielding not to dark despair;

They guessed where savvy miners had to go

And drilled to send compressed and heated air.

The rescue plan was not a simple one��"

They couldn’t let the mine with water fill,

So pumps would have a crucial role to play,

And, too, a summoned West Virginia drill.

On Thursday morn, the six-inch bit broke through,

Below the ground two hundred forty feet,

And banging on the pipe soon made it clear:

There was a deep-mine rescue to complete!

On Thursday afternoon, the big rig came

To drill a shaft a rescue cage could thread;

That job would take a half a day or more

To reach the barely living or the dead.

The miners’ many loved ones all about

Were gathered up in Sipesville’s fire hall

To comfort one another, weep, and hope,

And steel themselves, whatever might befall.

The world’s attention now was on that mine��"

Reporters pressed for facts that they could share;

The governor was ready to oblige

With information, confidence, and prayer.

The rescue hole was started Thursday night,

But trouble struck it well before the dawn��"

The bit had gone one hundred feet, then broke;

Yet, through it all, the water pumps pumped on.

The men had heard the drilling sounds above

And dared to think salvation close at hand;

When hopeful, distant rumblings fell away,

Once more, they feared they’d made their final stand.

They huddled close together for their heat,

Encouraging, in turn, the faint of heart;

On scraps, they penned brief notes to leave behind,

Their feelings for their loved ones to impart.

Alas, the bit had stuck inside the shaft,

And hours passed by with progress at a halt;

Another drill began another hole

Until the first could finish its assault.

On Saturday, the drill bored ever down,

As pumping made the water level fall;

With drilling done, a phone was sent below,

Where miners shouted, “OK! One and all!”

So resurrections followed Sunday morn,

As, one-by-one, the men were raised above,

Released from three-days’ prison’s bonds of gloom

And saved by acts of sacrifice and love.

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photo by: imcarol