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Families Gather To Remember Dola Mine Explosion

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DOLA -

50 years ago this week, 22 miners lost their lives in an accident at the Critchfield Number Two Mine near Dola.

Since then families and friends have gathered near the site of the mine portal to catch up with each other, and remember those they lost.

But this year, to celebrate the anniversary, about 150 people joined together at the Dola Miners' Memorial. Albert Cox was a journalist for a local radio station and still remembers the heartbreak of the families that day, as their loved ones were brought out of the mine.

"I remember watching the small kids running along the side then, looking it over, and I went up there, and the kids were trying to see through the cracks in the building, and saying things like 'Which one is my dad?' or 'Is that my dad?' It was very heartbreaking to see that, I'll never forget that," said Cox.

The event was organized by Nickie Fortney-Arnold. Her grandfather was one of the miners killed in the explosion. She said holding Saturday's ceremony was important to make sure that people remember the accident and its cost.

"This one was almost forgotten. I had a teacher tell my son that he was crazy when he told his teacher about this, and she'd never heard of it, she didn't know anything about it," said Fortney-Arnold.

All 22 men who died were married, and 59 children lost a parent in the explosion. For those family members, like Artha Robinson, whose husband Ralph Cabo was one of the dead, remembrances like this one are even more important.

"It's really nice, but you know, you never hear about the Dola Miners' explosion. It's always about the other mines, and I think people have forgotten about this one. So I think it's nice to make people remember," said Robinson.