By Paul Golias, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
The Wall of Honor at King’s College in downtown Wilkes-Barre has become a must-see visit for anyone interested in the region’s anthracite mining history.The Anthracite Heritage Foundation’s Wall of Honor was created “to honor the miners who worked and sometimes died in the anthracite mines of Northeastern Pennsylvania,’’ according to Donald Sanderson, president of the foundation. A polished black granite piece offers an etching of a coal miner’s face. Kiosks hold plaques related to mining history. Plaques of 100 names each will be placed on the wall that holds the miners’ memorial. The initial batch of 1,000-plus names will be formally unveiled at a special ceremony on April 6. This unique Wall of Honor is located in a memorial garden at King’s on the Square, the former Ramada Hotel, on Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre. The memorial was designed by Sanderson, an architect formerly with the Quad 3 Group. The $200,000 construction cost was underwritten by a family which asked that their identity be kept anonymous. Dr. Robert Wolensky, who wrote a heartfelt tribute to his dad, lauded the Wall and other memorials to miners. “Our family feels very honored to have the name of our father, Nick Wolensky, on The Wall of Honor at King’s. We also feel grateful to have the names of both grandfathers and an uncle appear on the Wall. What a tremendous benefit the Memorial Park and the Wall will bring to mine-working families, and to our community.’’ Names of miners may be submitted via the foundation’s website or by mail to the foundation at 69 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre PA 18701, Suite 709.Sanderson said the foundation expects that people will travel to Wilkes-Barre to see the names of ancestors on the wall, just as people journey to Ellis Island through which immigrants passed, many on their way to jobs in the mines. Other monuments and statues to coal miners dot the Wyoming Valley. A statue of a coal miner stands at the entrance to Nanticoke and an Anthracite Miners’ Memorial rests in the park created by the Huber Breaker Preservation Society in Ashley. Historical markers call attention to various tragedies, such as the Avondale Mine disaster in Plymouth Township, Knox Mine disaster in Jenkins Township, Lattimer Massacre near Hazleton and Judge Jesse Fell of Wilkes-Barre who burned anthracite in an open grate.