New Straitsville Mine Fire and Rock Run Reclamation
This site, known as the World's Greatest Mine Fire's is a part of the Wayne National Forest located on the Athens Ranger District, and managed by the US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture.
A reclamation project begun in 2010 has changed the face of this area. Plans for an interpretive trail and other developments will come as funding allows.
When violence and destruction broke out during the 9-month Hooking Valery Coal Strike in 1884 no one could envision the long term devastation to the area that Would result.
Coal in the underground mines caught fire, and has been buming ever since. No one is sure how many square miles of underground mines may have bumed but the fire continues to occasionally reach the surface yet today.
Today the Village of New Straitsville doesn't look like a town that would have been at the cutting edge of early labor organizations but in 1875, indeed it was. At that time, mining was in it's heyday here. The growing labor movement gave miners a voice, which in return, resulted in the coal operators combining forces into what miners called "The Syndicate."
Multiple efforts over the next many years were attempted to put out the fires; tunnels were mortared, bricked up, and pumped full of water, all in an effort to cut off air flow. Streams were diverted into the mines, and trenches were dug for fire breaks, but nothing worked. Finally the coal companies gave up and just hurried to mine the coal in front of the fires.
As thick seams of coal burned under the land, in many places the surface caved in. Buildings and roads sunk into burning holes. Smoke and mine gasses caused other buildings and part of the town
Curious people flocked in to see the great underground 1 fire, and the remaining residents of New Straitsville accommodated the tourists with guide services (picture below), entertaining the visitors with gimmicks such as cooking eggs in a skillet held over a hole in the ground, or drawing boiling water from a well to make coffee.
Today much of the area where the fire still burns is part of the Wayne National Forest. The underground fires still smoulder and occasionally break out, but are monitored closely.
The fires are a reminder of the old adage that anything we do may have unintended consequences.
-Though much of this area has recently been re-contoured, it is an area with a long history of farming and mining.
-You may come across items which are part of the history of the area. It is illegal to remove these items. If they are significant - please call our office as these items help us learn about our heritage.
- Artifacts such as arrowheads, spear points,
pottery and grinding stones are also protected by law and
may not be collected.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Disasters • Industry & Commerce • Labor Unions.
Location. 39° 35.204′
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. World’s Greatest Mine Fire (here, next to this marker); Robinson’s Cave (approx. one mile away); A Little City in the Forest (approx. 1.3 miles away); Tecumseh Theater (approx. 1.3 miles away); Black Diamonds and Bricks (approx. 1.3 miles away); A Boom Town (approx. 1.3 miles away); Welcome to Shawnee and the Little Cities of Back Diamond Region (approx. 1.3 miles away); Knights of Labor Opera House (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Straitsville.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 8, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 5, 2021, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 38 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 5, 2021, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
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