"Author Explains History Behind Tunnel Disaster"

"Individuals and organizations are banding together in the hopes of spreading awareness about the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster, and to create a memorial at the site where many victims were buried in unmarked and mass graves.

On Sunday, Dr. Dwight Harshbarger, author of “Witness at Hawks Nest,” spoke at Mountain State University about the history behind the disaster, the event’s absence from common knowledge and history textbooks, and his own historical fiction novel. ...

Harshbarger chronicled the history of the Union Carbide hydroelectric, 46-foot-diameter tunnel and the extraction of silica, from its start in 1927.

During the 18 months it took to drill the tunnel, 5,000 men were employed on the project, he said. ...

Epidemiologist Martin Cherniack estimated that within five years of breaking ground on the tunnel, 764 men, mostly African-American migrant workers, died from the debilitating lung disease.

Harshbarger reports that this is a low estimate."

Sarah Plummer reports for the Beckley Register-Herald March 7, 2011.

Monday, March 7, 2011