Donora in Washington County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The 1948 Donora Smog
Major federal clean air laws became a legacy of this environmental disaster that focused national attention on air pollution. In late October of 1948, a heavy fog blanketed this valley, and as the days passed, the fog became a thick, acrid smog that left about 20 people dead and thousands ill. Not until October 31 did the Donora Zinc Works shut down its furnaces--just hours before rain finally dispersed the smog.
Erected 1995 by Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Environment • Industry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission series list. A significant historical month for this entry is October 1948.
Location. 40° 10.574′ N, 79° 51.324′ W. Marker is in Donora, Pennsylvania, in Washington County. Marker is on Meldon Avenue (Pennsylvania Route 837) near 5th Street, on the right when traveling north. Located at Donora Public Library. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Donora PA 15033, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured Stan "The Man" Musial (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Borough of Donora Veteran's War Memorial (approx. 0.6 miles away); In Loving Memory of the 1948 Smog Disaster Victims (approx. 0.7 miles away); Cement City (approx. 0.7 miles away); Webster Honor Roll (approx. 0.7 miles away); Rabe Manor (approx. 1.3 miles away); Christian B. Anfinsen (approx. 1.8 miles away); Ella Hollow Honor Roll (approx. 2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Donora.
Also see . . .
1. The 1948 Donora Smog - Behind the Marker. Explore PA History website entry (Submitted on July 25, 2011, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.)
2. Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum. Museum website homepage (Submitted on July 25, 2011, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.)
3. Cleaner air is legacy left by Donora's killer 1948 smog. 1998 article by David Templeton in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Smog laden with sulfur dioxide from the zinc works was something Donora residents had become used to. As it thickened, residents went about their normal routines. On Oct. 29, the smog hid players from the crowd at a high school football game, and later, it became too thick to drive. That evening, people walking outside couldn't see their hands in front of their faces. Still, few had any sense of the danger encircling them.” (Submitted on October 26, 2017.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 17, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 25, 2011, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 1,556 times since then and 139 times this year. It was the Marker of the Week October 29, 2017. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 25, 2011, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.