Dola Community Remembers a Lesser-Known Mining Tragedy
Written by Fallon Pierson
Last updated on April 20, 2013 @ 9:24PM
Created on April 20, 2013 @ 6:51PM

Members of a small Harrison County community gathered to remember a lesser-known mine tragedy.  You've heard of Upper Big Branch and Sago.  But what about the Clinchfield Coal Explosion of 1963?

"People has forgotten about this one, so I think it's nice to make people remember," said widow Artha Robinson.
 
Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of that explosion in Dola, that killed 22 miners and left 59 children fatherless. State and Local leaders, community and family members of those killed, gathered on a windy Saturday, to remember lives lost.
 
Hostess Nickie Fortney-Arnold said, "These families didn't talk about this. They just got up the next day and went on, because that's what they did in those times."
 
But time has lessened the pain, and one of the last surviving widows can now speak about the day she lost her husband.
 
Artha Robinson added, "Well, it was a shock you know, for me. My husband was a mechanic in the mine. He was about the last one brought out."
 
The bureau of mine investigations believe the explosions somehow started in the Face Crosscut of the #5 entry, instantly killing the men.
 
A young and newly hired reporter from WHAR remembers with perfect clarity, how it felt to be there.
 
"Very surreal, very tragic. I will never forget that," said Al Cox, guest speaker.
 
He says it wasn't like it is today during these tragedies. The families were not kept away from the scene. Children followed along-side emergency crews carrying their father's bodies from the mine.
 
"The kids were trying to peek through little cracks in building. And saying things like, 'which one is my dad?' Or, 'is that my dad?' It was very heartbreaking," added Cox.
 
For the next generation who drives along route 20 and sees the gray stone with the names of 22 men they never knew, they will now know this:
 
"This is where we came from, and this is why our lives are they way they are. It's a part of us everyday," said Fortney.

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