ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Those who worked at the former Saginaw Mine outside the city along Reservoir Road will always have a memorial to their efforts, following a recent dedication and ceremony.
Today, only some rusty buildings and equipment remain at the former mine site. However, longtime coal miner and mine chaplain Tommy Junkins wanted to make sure people would remember the underground slope mine - which operated from 1949-1992 -- for generations to come. A memorial stone now sits at the mine's
former entrance, now part of the National Road Bikeway, near the intersection of Ohio 9 and Reservoir Road in St. Clairsville.
Tommy Junkins, left, who served as chaplain at the former Saginaw Mining Co. in St. Clairsville, speaks during a recent ceremony memorializing the mine.
During a recent ceremony held for the workers and families, Junkins explained how important the mine was to the local area during its heyday.
"I just felt this was something I should do for the miners and for their families," he said during the dedication. "I hope it is something people will be able to come here to see for many years."
Among those attending the ceremony were family members of Ronald Noble, a miner who died in a 1991 accident at the facility. "This is a wonderful treasure for the people who worked in the mine, and to
those who died," said Noble's daughter, Amy Weyrick. "There are some today who walk by on the trail who may not even realize a mine was here. This is a good thing to have so they will know."
St. Clairsville Mayor Robert Vincenzo said during the event that officials worked hard to find a proper location for the monument.
"I had a cousin who worked in this mine," he said. "In knowing many of the miners who worked there, we felt this was a small gesture for us to do to recognize their efforts."
Junkins worked in the Saginaw Mine from 1974 until its 1992 closure, mostly as a roof bolter to ensure the safety of fellow miners by making sure the roof would not cave in on them. He began thinking of a possible memorial a few years ago, so he started the process in 2011. Junkins used some of his own money to pay for the monument, while the United Mine Workers of America also chipped in some funding.
Junkins said the combination of new longwall machine mining technology, which Saginaw lacked, and stronger environmental regulations regarding Ohio's high-sulfur coal ultimately spelled the end for the mine. He believes the memories will continue for generations, though.
Tommy said his late brother, Sammy Junkins, also worked at Saginaw for some time in the late 1970s and early 1980s before busines conditions led to a reduction in Saginaw's employment numbers.