The Times West Virginian


June 5, 2014

Experience life in coal country

Northern Appalachian Coal Mining Heritage Association open house celebration Saturday

FAIRMONT — Families are invited to experience coal country with an afternoon of history, virtual reality and miniature golf.

The Northern Appalachian Coal Mining Heritage Association will hold an open house celebration to introduce a new coal mining safety exhibit Saturday.

The exhibit features 12 stations that explain different aspects of mining, including mine ventilation and mining safety awards.

“(Guests) will actually understand what the miners do in order to ensure their safety,” said Cherie Coogle, event committee chairwoman.

Additionally, the museum will offer educational attractions that focus on mining throughout the day.

There will be a Virtusphere, which is an interactive 3-D simulation ball in which participants are taken on an underground coal mining experience by simply putting on a pair of goggles.

The simulator has been featured on the TV series “Shark Tank.”

“It would be a good educational and fun environment for the children,” Coogle said. “The Virtusphere is coming clear from New York. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing unless we can get enough involvement to bring one to the area. This is something they will not usually get to do.”

A train exhibit should appeal to children, Coogle said, because it features a number of types of train engines throughout history.

“They can see the steam engine and the coal engine actually operating.”

The open house will also feature three bluegrass bands, lemonade, cotton candy and other treats, and vendors including West Virginia Coal Jewelry.

The miniature golf course and batting cages will also be open at Coal Country Miniature Golf, which is in the same space as the museum.

The Marion County Historical Society, Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum, Convention & Visitors Bureau of Marion County, and others will also have booths open to visitors.

The museum will hold a membership drive during the event, at which guests can get a membership that includes news letters and discounts on miniature golf throughout the year.

“We decided it was a good time for the museum to get a little recognition, to take a moment to remember how many fatalities we have had in the coal mines, as well as to just raise the awareness of the coal mining heritage in the Fairmont Field area,” said Coogle.

The Northern Appalachian Coal Mining Heritage Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing knowledge of coal mining heritage in the Fairmont Field — Marion, Monongalia, Taylor, Barbor and Preston counties.

The event runs from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Coal Country Miniature Golf. Admission is free.

Email Chelsi Baker at or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.

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