University to help create database of mine maps

The Pennsylvania Bureau of Deep Mine Safety is teaming with Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to create a statewide database of mine maps to ensure miners’ safety.

The state bureau, which is part of the state environmental protection department, has provided the university’s libraries with a $125,000 Cruse digital camera to scan and digitize large maps. IUP has about 400 mine maps dating back more than a century. The project will also include digitizing some bureau maps.

The project will begin next month and take about two years to complete. Communities planning construction and renovation projects for underground stability can use the database, according to a university press release.

Bureau officials approached IUP following the July 2002 accident at Quecreek Mine in Somerset County, Pa., where nine miners were rescued after being trapped nearly 240 feet underground for 78 hours. Since that accident the bureau has been working to improve safety for miners.

Coal remains an essential resource but its mining has risks and costs, said Rena Fowler, dean of the IUP Libraries, in the release. “The records of the industry are a resource themselves, and here at IUP, we have taken great pride in collecting these records in our Special Collections archived so that the past may serve the future,” she said.

Several mining companies and other organizations have also provided grants to help organize and process the collection as well as mining records, including maps and files.

“Mining is an integral part of our community’s legacy and continues to play a vital role in our economy,” state Sen. Don White, who supported the project, said in the release. “As we have seen here in Pennsylvania and more recently in West Virginia, it can be a dangerous occupation.”

Recently, 14 miners in West Virginia died in two separate incidents.

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