It's been 10 years since one of the nation's greatest miracles happened right here in Somerset County.
The Quecreek Mine rescue on Dormel Farms near Sipesville symbolized hope, patriotism and most of all — a nation united in prayer from July 24-28, 2002, when nine miners were trapped for 78 hours 240 feet underground, facing 60 million gallons of water with no way to the surface. It seemed absolutely hopeless at the time.
And, once again the international media spotlight returned here just a few short months after Sept. 11, 2001 — this time thankfully to record heroism and triumph and not tragedy and loss. But, it took an incredible amount of perseverance, technology and prayer to bring each miner safely to the surface.
In the end, it was deemed an incredible miracle.
Bill and Lori Arnold, owners of Dormel Farms and founders of the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, have been living that miracle ever since. Now, they are hosting a 10th anniversary celebration from today through Saturday inviting everyone to revisit this special time in local and national history.
Bill Arnold pointed out that this rescue in particular "rewrote the history books" and even made other rescue attempts, like the rescue of 33 Chilean miners in October 2010, a possibility.
"The Quecreek Mine Rescue was a distinct turning point in our nation's history," said Bill Arnold. "We as a nation were still on our knees from the events of Sept. 11 and the thought during that rescue was that 'we will prevail and no evil force will take these miners from us. We will have hope and faith and persevere to the end.
This is not going to happen here again like it did with Flight 93. This time, we will prevail as Americans.'"
Bill Arnold vividly remembers the whole ordeal — a situation he would have never imagined to have happened squarely on his family's peaceful dairy farm but when it did happen, he and his family rose to the occasion with every kind of assistance possible, along with hundreds of community members who did what was necessary.
The entrance of Quecreek Mine is one and a half miles away from Dormel Farms but the miners were actually trapped directly below the surface of Dormel Farms — where the media attention of the world was focused for an intense few days. That rescue reunited Americans at their television sets with each nail-biting time that yellow rescue capsule returned with another miner until the last was saved.