By Patrick Varine
January 9, 2023 - Export Historical Society officials are hoping to work with the borough, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation and the Society for Mining and Metallurgy Exploration to create a historical area at one of the few bituminous coal mine sites able to be safely viewed by the public.
In 2018, as part of an Eagle Scout project, two portals to the former Westmoreland Coal Co.’s No. 2 mine were uncovered on the hillside.
Historical society officials would like to seal both portal openings with concrete and blocks, install fencing, establish a stable highwall, install and repair existing retaining walls and fence off dangerous areas.
Export Historical Society officials are hoping to secure a grant for remediation work at the former Westmoreland Coal Co.'s No. 2 Mine.
Photo: Patrick Varine, Tribune-Review
They are pursuing a $300,000 grant from the DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation for the majority of the work, but the project also has been chosen by the Society for Mining and Metallurgy Exploration’s nonprofit arm, the SME Foundation, as the recipient of its inaugural Miners Give Back Award.
The Export mine was the first major mine on the Turtle Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The borough’s first mines opened in October 1892 to ship coal to Philadelphia and New York. It closed in 1952.
“Local officials decided to create a place that communicates the importance of mining by informing residents and visitors about the area’s mining history, artifacts and maps through exposure to the sealed mine portal area,” SME’s Ray Donelick wrote in a foundation newsletter announcing the award.
SME’s Pittsburgh section was able to offer professional mining engineering and remediation expertise that otherwise would only be available at a significant cost, roughly $40,000 of in-kind work.
The DEP grant application would put the groundwork laid by the SME award into practice.
“The borough intends to apply for Pennsylvania historical marker designation, a program designed to capture the memory of people, places, events and innovations that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries,” Donelick wrote.
Borough council member and historical society member Melanie Litz said the project’s reach extends beyond the historical aspect.
“We want to remediate the site, which will also address some of the water runoff issues the borough’s been having along Washington Avenue,” Litz said.
Export council voted unanimously at its January meeting to support the historical society’s grant application. Since the borough owns the property where the mine entrance is, council also voted to permit entry by the historical society, pending a review of the proposal by solicitor Wes Long.