Monongah Mine Disaster commemorative bell repaired

Feb. 7—MONONGAH — The historic miners bell commemorating the Monongah Mine Disaster was repaired Friday.

The motor inside the bell was fried three years ago during a lightning storm and hasn't rang since, but after a quick repair, it will ring every day at 10:28 a.m.

The Monongah Mine Disaster occurred on December 6, 1907, in the Fairmont Coal Company's No. 6 and No. 8 mines.

The explosion has been described as "the worst mining disaster in American History," and 362 miners died after an explosion occurred at 10:28 a.m. A second larger explosion in another area followed and instantly killed most of those inside. The blast caused considerable damage inside the mine and on the surface. Ventilation systems, necessary to keep fresh air supplied to the mine, were destroyed, along with many railcars and other equipment.

The bell was made in the 700-year-old Marinelli Foundry in Agnone, Italy and was brought to Monongah in 2007 for the 100-year commemoration of the mining disaster and the lives lost, a majority of whom were Italian immigrants. According to a 1993 report titled "The Monongah Mines Disaster Relief Committee, 171 victims were Italian.

"The Miner's Bell represents an important part of Monongah's history and Italian heritage," Monongah Mayor Johnboy Palmer said.

The bell was a gift from the people of Italy and blessed by Bishop Bransfield, Palmer said.

"On behalf of the mayor's office and the Town Council, we are proud to restore this remembrance bell that was damaged by lightning ... It will once again toll to honor those lives lost," Palmer said.

James Androuais, a repairman for the McShane Bell Company, travels around the country repairing bells. He replaced all of the electrical components inside of the bell and worked from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the repair. After leaving Monongah, he headed to Los Angeles, California for another repair job.

Palmer said he is proud to honor the Monongah Mine Disaster, those who died in the mine and the effect it had on the community.

The bell sits in the center of town next to the Monongah Heroine statue, which honors the widows of miners who died in the disaster.

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