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Harrison County History of Coal Museum at Puskarich Public Library

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by Sandi Thompson, Director of the Puskarich Public Library
When entering the lower level of the Puskarich Public Library located in Cadiz,Ohio, one is brought back to an almost silent time of yesterday. The Harrison Co. History of Coal Museum was designed and built in 1994 from a grant designated by the Ohio General Assembly. Since then, the museum has had many donations of mining artifacts including actual miner’s caps, lunch buckets, lamps, company store items, photos, and memories from miners gone before us. There is even a canary cage on display used as an early methane gas detection system in mines.  The Ohio Historical Society lent their expertise and assisted in the creation of the displays.

Ida Mae Stull

The first woman miner in America, Ida Mae Stull, was from Harrison County. She is featured in an enlarged photo along with facts about her life. An actual Watt coal car from the 1930’s -1940’s is the centerpiece of the museum as well as a typical miner of the day. There is also a theatre located in the rear that seats up to100 that highlights various educational videos and actual footage of being in a deep mine.

If you would like a group tour, special arrangements can be made for retired coal miners to come and answer questions.  Their firsthand accounts add to the experience by the sharing of their personal stories.  The black carpeting, painted black walls and ceiling have been successful in the attempt to give one the underground feel of a deep mine. The gigantic strip mining coal shovel photos are featured in the entryway. The equipment photos feature historic facts and information. The newly acquired sign from atop the Silver Spade helps communicate the size and scope of the monstrous shovels that once roamed the hills throughout southeastern Ohio.

It can be overwhelming to some to realize that this is truly a historic museum located in the lower level of the Puskarich Public Library.  Step inside and become entrenched in the portrayal of how hard the men and women from 100 years ago worked in the mines. Every day was a dangerous struggle to provide for their families.  The museum steps through different times and types of mining, from underground mining’s pick and shovel to the enormous machines that were used in strip mining.  There are many unique items including a hand drawn map showing the Willow Grove Mine disaster of 1940 including details of where miners were found.  Pieces like the Willow Grove map make the experience even more personal and realistic.
Click on thumbnails to view larger images
Harrison County was a richly blessed county with prosperous farms and a successful mining industry. Many folks from miles around are still pondering how the economy continues to struggle when “back in our day” we had it made, and a day’s work was a day’s work. Our area is fortunate to have such a museum as it preserves the treasured memories and history of mining.    Museum hours are 9-5 Monday through Friday and 9-1 on Saturdays. Admission is free, however, donations are appreciated. To make reservations for your group or for more information about the museum, call 740-942-2623.
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