The Times West Virginian

Local News

December 7, 2013

Swap meet part of Miner’s Day celebration

‘The coal culture is what made us’

FAIRMONT — The Northern Appalachian Coal Mining Heritage Association (NACMHA) celebrated Miner’s Day by holding its first Coal Mining Appreciation Day Swap Meet.

The event, which took place at the Knights of Columbus Hall, lasted all day, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The swap meet had around 30 vendors from as far away as Kentucky, displaying coal memorabilia, books and documentary films. The event was free and open to the public.

Mike Rohaly, president of NACMHA, said the event was held for a variety of reasons.

“Our organization is about coal mining heritage. We’re holding this event to establish contacts with people who have coal mining collections,” Rohaly said. “We’re also hoping to raise a little money.”

The NACMHA has a small coal mining museum near Coal Country Miniature Golf, off I-79 exit 137. They are hoping to use these new contacts to expand the museum exhibits, including possibly through short-term exhibits that would change quarterly.

The NACMHA was founded in 2000, but has gained momentum in recent years as community interest has grown. This event is the NACMHA’s first fundraising event.

The event was also held to facilitate community members talking about and sharing their collective coal mining heritage.

“Fairmont came about because of coal,” Blair Montgomery, one of the event organizers, said. “The coal culture is what made us. It’s important to know where you came from. It keeps you grounded and helps you realize who you are as a person.”

Vendors said they appreciated the event’s mix of collectors and community members.

“I think it highlights the pride in coal mining in this area. It’s a lot of good history,” Colin Gatland, co-founder of Eastern Mining Collectors Association (EMCA), said. “We have a lot of families who have come through here and chatted with us about their coal mining past.

“One of the big things we try to instill is the fact that when you go home and turn on your light switch, or turn on your heat, it’s because of a miner that’s been digging coal.”

By mid-afternoon, with half the day still left, more than 150 people had been to the swap meet.

“We actually had three or four cars out asking when the show started before we even opened this morning,” Gatland said.

Chris Hacker, also with EMCA, said that he enjoyed talking with people about their coal mining memorabilia. Hacker primarily collects mining lamps and said that some people don’t realize how valuable their memorabilia really is.

“They just see grandpa’s old lamp. They may not know they’re rare,” Hacker said.

One of the lamps the EMCA brought with them, a Hansen Dry-Lite, is worth $5,000.

Danielle Petrak is the curator of the Watts Museum at West Virginia University, which is dedicated to the history of coal and petroleum industries in West Virginia. Petrak said she hopes the NACMHA is successful in its expansion efforts.

“Unfortunately, it takes money,” Petrak said.

Montgomery hopes the museum will continue to make use of displays that bring history and coal mining “down to reality” for kids.

“That’s what we want with the museum — for all the stuff to be really tangible, so kids can touch it and find out what this was all about. They can hold the miner’s light, the drip candles. ... They can hold all of these different things that they’ve never seen before and learn about them,” Montgomery said.

The swap meet took several months to organize. Raven Thomas, one of the event organizers, said the event was a success.

“We’ve been working really diligently to pull this off,” Thomas said.

Montgomery said that they plan on holding another swap meet next year. He hopes more community members will take advantage of the opportunity to have their family coal memorabilia appraised.

“Coal miner widows sitting at home, they may not have two coins to rub together, and they may have a bunch of mining memorabilia that looks like junk, and it could be worth thousands of dollars and they don’t even know it,” Montgomery said.

“They can come down next year, and treat this like an Antiques Roadshow. And maybe one of the collectors may even buy it from them.”

Email Colleen S. Good at or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

Text Only
Local News
  • Some county schools offer free lunch, breakfast

    They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    July 28, 2014

  • Boil-water notice lifted

    The boil-water notice issued for School Street in Barrackville and surrounding areas has been lifted.

    July 28, 2014

  • Monongah water plant receives positive report

    The Town of Monongah’s water plant has received a positive report — with no violations — from the state.

    July 28, 2014

  • Morgantown man charged with sexual abuse

    A Morgantown man has been arrested for the rape of a 12-year-old girl in Marion County.

    July 28, 2014

  • Storm Cleanup Cleanup continues after storms

    Residents and emergency crews continued to clean up the mess Monday from Sunday evening’s storms.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gayle Manchin: Issue of Common Core Standards has been politicized

    The state didn’t do a very good job of “telling the story” of Common Core Standards, state school board president Gayle Manchin said Monday morning, which opened the door for an onslaught of public and administrative criticism of something few understand.

    July 28, 2014

  • Purple Heart Memorial fundraising continues

     Despite three years of fundraising, a memorial remains unfinished.
    The Purple Heart Memorial was planned three years ago. It is part of the Vietnam Memorial at the Wave Tec Park and was planned to honor all of those who were wounded or killed in action in any war.
    Danny Greene has been working to complete the memorial since the project began. He is a member of the local Purple Heart Chapter.

    July 28, 2014

  • End of Fairview water project on tap

    Officials say the Fairview water line extension project is on track to meet the goal of making water available to all new customers by the end of this week.
    Fairview Mayor Arley Simmons said workers have recently been busy pulling samples and flushing the lines in order to get new customers hooked up for water service.
    “It should have been done a year ago,” he said of the project.
    However, the end of the endeavor is now nearing completion. The hope has been to have everybody on line before this month is over, Simmons said.

    July 28, 2014

  • Barbara Yanero.jpg Like a Springsteen song

     Barbara Yanero grew up in Monongah, on Shaver Street. The street has a long history. For quite some time, Polish and Italian immigrants lived on that street.
    Yanero’s family started living there with her great-grandparents, who moved there around 1927. Later, her great-grandfather made a house for her grandmother and grandfather out of a barn that was already on the property.
    “He was an amazing human being,” Yanero said. “And my mom and dad ended up living there as well, and now me.”
    In Monongah, the neighbors formed a tight-knit group.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local water project nearing completion

    Officials say the Fairview water line extension project is on track to meet the goal of making water available to all new customers by the end of this week.

    July 27, 2014

Featured Ads
TWV Video Highlights
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads