SOMERSET (KDKA) — At this peaceful farm of pastures and horses, it’s hard to imagine that more than 200-feet below is the Quecreek Mine that made news 10 years ago.
Bill Arnold says it was just before midnight when he saw men with flashlights walking around his property.
“Came up to investigate and it was engineers who were already trying to locate a spot above ground where they thought the men would be,” Arnold told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano. “And when I pulled in I’ll never forget their words to me. They said, ‘There’s been an accident in the mine and nine guys are missing and we think they’re trapped under your farm.’”
After the successful rescue seen by millions on TV, Arnold knew this part of his farm would never be private again.
“A lot of those millions of people who had seen the farm showed up here the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.”
So Arnold and his family donated part of the farm to the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, a non-profit they formed, and raised money to build a museum building.
It just opened with lots of work left to do, but already busloads of visitors are coming to see the air hole that kept miners alive as a rescue hole was drilled — and, of course, to see the famous rescue capsule that saved nine lives.
“We need volunteers. We need funding,” notes Arnold.
With help from the Heinz History Center, Arnold with his wife Lori are managing, but, “while the building is completed, we still have a lot of work to do for the design and build-out of the exhibits and we want to tell this story on a world-class level.”
The entire Quecreek rescue site and the new visitor center is opened to the public, free of charge, at least for the rest of this 10th anniversary week. After that, the admission fee is $5 per person.