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Monongah Residents Reflect on Mining Disaster 105 Years Later

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MONONGAH -

The worst mine disaster in United States history happened 105 years ago, in our own back yard.

The disaster affected people around the world and people here still talk about the importance of remembering.

"It's just something we should never forget and always be able to tell these stories to our children and their grandchildren," said West Virginia State Senator Roman Prezioso.

Joseph Easie agrees.

"I think it's a forgotten story and I'd like to keep it going so the younger generation knows about this and it's not forgotten," he said.

The story begins on December 6,1907 around 10:20 a.m.

An explosion in mines number six and eight took the lives of more than 300 men from not only West Virginia, but all over the world.

"That was the most horrific mine explosion, most horrific industrial accident in United States History," Senator Prezioso said.

Caskets were lined up on Main Street after the accident with bodies yet to be identified.

That was the moment many people realized they'd lost their loved ones.

"My wife's grandfather was killed in that mine disaster," Eates said. "Her mother was only two years old when this happened."

Many of the 361 miners who lost their lives in the disaster are buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Monongah.

Many of them were Italian.

In 2007, the Italian government dedicated a plaque in honor of those who lost their lives.

"There must have been 5000 people from all over the world that came into Monongah that day to remember those coal miners," Senator Prezioso said.

For a number of years, a committee worked to build a memorial in Monongah.

Most of the funding came from a family in Italy that lost a loved one in the explosion.

The Monongah Mine Disaster caused a lot of mining regulations to come into place.

West Virginia hasn't experienced a major mine disaster since the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010, but state officials said there is still a lot of work to be done.