ASHLEY — Ray Clark knows what the anthracite mining industry meant to Northeastern Pennsylvania and the country.
“The mining industry revolutionized our economy,” Clark said. “Because of it and all the people who worked so hard, society is the way it is today — it’s why we are as good as we are.”
Clark, 79, is chairman of the board and treasurer of the Huber Breaker Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to perpetuating the heritage of the mining industry.
Clark’s father was a coal miner, and Clark had delivered coal in the late 1950s.
The society is building a Miners Memorial Park on Main Street in Ashley in front of the Huber Breaker. The site is being excavated and developed on land gifted to the society by the Earth Conservancy.
Marty Montigney and Clark Hennings of Penn State Mechanical were working at the site Monday, grading the land and installing footers for concrete to be poured.
Clark said a dedication ceremony will be held on May 27 at 1 p.m. and the public is invited. He said the park will cost $200,000 to complete and only $28,000 has been raised to date.
“We have a long way to go,” Clark said. “We are building this park solely on private donations. Miners fueled the industrial revolution, from the steel mills to everything else. We want to see the miners get their just due.”
Clark said the park will include picnic tables, park benches, a walking trail, flower beds, parking lot and informational kiosks that will tell the story of the mining industry.
“Most of that won’t be here for the dedication,” Clark said. “We also want to build a company home like the ones across the street from the site.”
The former mining company homes have been modernized over the years, Clark said. He wants to build one on the site to show people what kind of living arrangements miners had during the heyday of coal mining.
“We want to show where miners lived with their families,” he said. “The company home replica will also be used as a museum for the display of mining artifacts.”
Clark first got involved with the society 21 years ago because he believes in the preservation of anthracite mining history.
“This is something I just wanted to see happen,” he said. “We still haven’t been able to get a coal miner’s postage stamp. There are stamps for Donald Duck and Elvis Presley, but none for the coal miner.”
Clark said the Huber Breaker Preservation Society has about 50 dues-paying members. He said the park will be built in phases as donations come in to the society.