Rosebud Mining Company has agreed to buy the struggling Windber Coal Heritage Center, in an innovative partnership that will use the 31-year-old firm’s resources, insights and connections to keep alive the history of the region’s miners and the story of the Quecreek rescue.
The sale of the museum by The Progress Fund to Rosebud Mining Company was completed today.
“So many small museums throughout the country have had to severely cut operations or close,” said David Kahley, President & CEO of The Progress Fund, which has operated the Windber Coal Heritage Center since 1998 in a building formerly used by the Berwind White Company Rosebud Mining Company “has insights about coal that we never had. This is an incredible turn-of-events that will keep the museum in Windber, and deepen its connection to coal through its association with Rosebud Mining Company.”
“We are happy to help keep the Center open for the community, and celebrate the hard-working coal miners that provide America with half of its electricity each and every day,” said Rosebud Mining Company’s President Cliff Forrest. Per Forrest, within a few months the Windber Coal Heritage Center will be reopened with regular business hours moving forward.
The Progress Fund had been forced to gradually reduce the Windber Coal Heritage Center’s hours of operation due to funding cuts from the state and other sources. David Kahley had made the tough decision to close the doors of the Windber museum. He had worked out an arrangement with the Johnstown Area Heritage Association which was willing to accept and display the Windber artifacts, including many items from the 2002 Quecreek Mine rescue.
But with the collection still intact, Hank Shaak notified Rosebud Mining Company of the impending closure. Hank is the V.P. of Wilmore Coal Company part of Berwind Natural Resources with an office in Windber. Rosebud then contacted Tony Sossong, a member of The Progress Fund’s board and a retired Berwind executive.
Their conversation led to talks and eventually today’s purchase of the building. Rosebud Mining Company will use empty space in the third floor of building, while allowing the museum to continue to occupy its current space.
The 13-year-old Windber Coal Heritage Center’s focus will not change, said Mr. Kahley.
“The museum really tells the visitor about the life of the coal miner,” he said. “It has always been about the common man, their life, their times.”
Since 1979, Rosebud Mining Company has actively produced high quality bituminous coal from mines located in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. The company now operates fifteen deep mines and six preparation plants in Armstrong, Beaver, Cambria, Clearfield, Elk, and Indiana counties in Pennsylvania and Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Currently, Rosebud Mining Company is the third largest underground coal producer in Pennsylvania, providing steam and metallurgical coals to domestic and international customers. Rosebud attributes its success and growth to the dedication and hard work of all of its 850 outstanding employees.