ROANOKE — The Roanoke Park Board is erecting a memorial to coal miners who worked in the Roanoke mine during the 1920s.
The memorial is being constructed just south of the Roanoke Depot and is within eyesight of Mount Jumbo, Roanoke's only remaining remnant of the once-thriving business that brought many immigrants to settle here.
A set of mine tracks and a coal car have found a new home atop a small mound on the memorial site. The tracks are from the Roanoke mine and were found by city workers while they were excavating to install new water lines on Mill Street. The wheels on the coal car are also authentic and were found during the excavation.
A Toluca man built the car that sits atop the wheels out of sawn wood, to make it appear as authentic as possible. "It's an authentic representative of what a coal car would have looked like," said park board member Kirk Anderson. A second coal car is under construction and will eventually be set at the site on the other side of the mound.
Anderson said there have been a few delays in completing the car, which also has an authentic chassis, but not from the Roanoke mine.
Once the memorial is complete, a granite stone will be placed near it thanking the mine workers for their contribution to the community.
The memorial has been a long-time project of the park board, which received financial assistance from the Roanoke Rotary and the Rotary Foundation to help pay for the restoration. It is one of several projects undertaken by the park board in recent years.
Another improvement is the addition of a semaphore at the Depot. The signal, originally from Henry, was donated to the depot by the Marshall County Historical Society.
"It was kind of a pile of junk that had been given to them and they didn't have anyplace to keep it," Anderson said. "They asked us if we were interested in having it, and I said yes."
Anderson said park employee Corky Rossman and the Farm Shop helped put the semaphore back together, painted it and installed it.
Anderson said the park board is not planning any immediate new projects, and finances have been good lately.
"We're going to work on some maintenance," he said, "replacing furnaces and adding air conditioning." Also, the board will probably start setting aside funds to pay for pool repairs that will likely be needed down the road, Anderson said.
The main project for the coming year will be to install air conditioning in the park building. "People have said they would like to have that, so we're going to move forward with it," Anderson said.
In addition, the board will likely be planting some trees with the possibility of dedicating at least one to the memory of a generous donor.