Memorial service honors 72 men who died in the Willow Grove Mine explosion

Date: 03/09/2024
Source: WTRF
Mary Flavin



BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) — On March 16, 1940, 72 men lost their lives during the Willow Grove Mine explosion.


Today, many people gathered to honor the fallen men as well as the families that were affected by their loss.  


In March 2020, a memorial stone and statue were installed in Willow Grove, as well as a bell that previously belonged to the Sacred Hearts Church.


The bell was said to have rung the day of the incident.


Michael Payton, District 31 Vice President, says that the memorial is all about honoring the men who died, and it’s important to never forget what happened.


“We know the risks but the reward to provide and take care of your family and provide for your community, that’s something that we’re really proud of that we can do.”

Michael Payton, District 31 Vice President


“If you kissed your husband goodbye that day or you told daddy ‘I’ll see you later’, or if your mom called you and you didn’t come back – all those people suffered. It wasn’t just 72 people; it was hundreds of people that suffered in this tragic loss.”

Ray Wright, 3rd generation coal miner and contributor to the memorial


Ray Wright says that the explosion has had a lasting effect in the community that has spanned decades. This memorial serves as a way to remember the fallen and reminds us of the dangers that miners face every day when entering the mines.