The rain did Saturday did not stop a tribute to coal miners across the Ohio Valley and the nation today in Byesville.
Fundraising for the statue at Byesville Scenic Railway began five years ago, and the $40,000 it took to create the bronze miner was gathered solely from community members and the operation of the railway tour.
Historian Dave Adair says educating the public about the grueling lifestyle of a coal miner has become a passion, even creating a Miner's museum at the railway.
"I was not a coal miner. My grandfather was a coal miner. His wife was married three times. First 2 killed in the coal mines. He died of black lung," he said. "My personal story I have to do something to give them recognition as well as the thousands of other men who died. They're all gone today they can't tell the story. That's why we're here today."
Former miner Fred Gerdau revealed the statue Saturday afternoon to a crowd gathered to honor and remember miners and their families throughout the county, state, and nation.
"Back in 2007 we commissioned Alan Cottrill from CooperMill BronzeWorks Ltd. over in Zanesville to design a statue for us according to our ideas incorporating all the things that we've learned from past descendants of miners," said Stephen Stolarik of the Byesville Scenic Railway. "Everything on that statue means something, from the carbide light on top of his head, to the oil wick lamp at the base, which would be the generation before the carbide light. Our miner is holding an Edison light, which is still used in the mines today."
The miner statue is also missing his right index finger in honor of all the men injured in the mines. He's carrying a lunch pail made by the Buckeye Aluminum Co. and has a powder box from the Austin Powder Co. in Cleveland. The number on the miner's check tag, 382, represents the number of miners killed in Guernsey County alone over a span of 60 years.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Byesville Scenic Railway Coal Miners Fund can mail to Box 254 Byesville Ohio or visit www.bsrw.org.