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The idea of a memorial to honor the anthracite miner goes back ten years prior to it's 1997 dedication.

In the late 1980's, Joe Walacavage presented an idea to the Minersville Rotary Club to which he belonged, to erect a monument to highlight the area's rich coal mining heritage. A committee was formed with him as Chairman.

Over the next ten years, many sites and ideas came to the drawing board, but none met the high standards he had in mind. Finally, a piece of land he owned at a prominent intersection, was sold to a developer for a new mini market, with the stipulation that a piece of it be preserved to erect the statue.

The next few years he spent in scouring the coal region for donations to finance the project. From individual miners to coal company owners themselves, everyone dug deep to help Joe fulfill his dream.

The idea of a solitary miner, pick in hand, a miners lamp held aloft, was presented to Pottsville native Jim Ponter, a sculptor with the Franklin Mint in Philadelphia, and finally, the fruits of his labor were being realized.

As worked progressed on the statue, Joe was diagonsed with terminal cancer. Friends, family, and neighbors all kicked in to help speed up the completion of the site where the statue would be placed. A base was poured with materials and labor being donated by local businesses and contractors.

Finally, on June 27, 1997, the statue, whose face was modeled after Joe's father Edmund, was slowly lowered on to the pedestal. Dedication was set for the next day, and Joe attended, viewing the ceremony from the back of an ambulance that brought him there from the hospital. Finally, after all those years, his dream was fulfilled, a statue second to none, to honor the workers known as the anthracite coal miner.

Five days later, Joseph Walacavage, miner, father,and friend, passed away.

His legacy will live on every time someone gazes upon the statue outside his hometown of Minersville, and the task to complete his project was taken over by his fellow Rotarians, but that, is the next story.

Thank you Joe, Rest In Peace.