Tribune Democrat: by David Hurst

A hammer and 8-foot-long bit used to drill the rescue shaft that brought nine stranded miners to safety 14 years ago will join an exhibit marking the moment later this month.

The Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation will celebrate the 14th anniversary of the famed “miracle” rescue on July 23 with a ceremony planned to accept the donation of both tools from Somerset-based Keystone Drill Services Inc..

“Bringing together equipment used in the Quecreek mine rescue enhances our ability to educate the public about this incredible event,” said Bill Arnold, the foundation’s executive director.

“The addition of the drill bit used in the final stages of the rescue, in particular, will help us fill a gap we had in telling the story of the rescue.”

That metal bit weighs about 4,000 pounds, Arnold said.

At 26 inches in diameter, the bit is nearly the size of a typical mountain bike tire.

Both tools were needed during the final hours of the rescue on Arnold’s farm on July 28, 2002.

Four days earlier, nine miners accidentally breached the wall of an adjacent, abandoned mine.

The men were trapped underground in the flooded Quecreek Mine, launching a rescue effort that captivated the nation.

State and federal mine rescue agencies, hundreds of workers and volunteers pulled off the feat, as crews eventually created a mine shaft large enough to pull out the miners and the metal cage-like capsule that carried them to safety.

“The rescue of nine miners in 2002 was an amazing experience for everyone at Keystone, and for me personally,” said Tom Walker, Keystone Drill Services president.

“We will never forget the opportunity we had to contribute our equipment and expertise to this successful rescue.”

The mine rescue nonprofit formed in 2003 and added a visitors center in 2012.

The rescue spawned a made-for-TV movie, “The Pennsylvania Miners’ Story,” and book rights to miners’ stories were sold to a Disney publisher around the same time.

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