HOLDEN, W.Va. — On March 8, 1960, a slate fall reportedly started a coal fire at the Island Creek Coal Company mine at 22 Holden.
Carbon monoxide gas resulting from the fire would eventually claim the lives of 18 miners.
Twenty men were trapped by the slate fall and fire, but snow and cold temperatures on the surface hampered efforts to extinguish the flames.
Two miners, Kyle Blair and Willis Carter were reportedly with the group of 20 miners and decided to crawl through a narrow passage to try to find a way out.
Eight days after the slate fall and resulting fire, the bodies of the remaining 18 men were found.
For years, the absence of a memorial has left a blank page at the end of the disaster’s history; however, that will change Saturday, September 10 as the Holden 22 Miners Memorial Committee (HMMC) plans to dedicate a new memorial to honor the lives lost in the disaster.
The dedication will be start at 11 a.m. September 10.
The memorial site is situated across from the new National Guard Logan-Mingo Readiness Center near the Buck Harless Industrial Park.
In June, 2015, the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority deeded a property along 22 Mine Road to the HMMC.
Eventually, the group hopes to build a shelter apart from the memorial and landscape the area.
Isom Ooten, the president of the HMCC noted, “This memorial has been set aside for families, friends and neighbors who lived in the coal camp community of 22 Holden.”
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]