Monongah, West Virginia

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Monongah is a town in Marion County, West Virginia along the West Fork River. The population was 939 at the 2000 census. Monongah was incorporated in 1891 by Circuit Court. Its name is abbreviated from Monongahela, the river formed by the confluence of the West Fork and Tygart Valley Rivers a few miles north of the town.



During the operation of the original Consolidated Coal Company mine, some of the town's amenities consisted of a hotel and a station for a cable car line that linked several nearby towns.

The town suffered the Monongah Mining Disaster on December 6, 1907, described as "the worst mining disaster in American History" in which 362 miners died. Several publications document the disaster, including the Italian book, "MONONGAH, la Marcinelle americana." Davitt McAteer, Clinton Administration mine safety administrator, authored the book, “Monongah: The Tragic Story of the 1907 Monongah Mine Disaster.”

Recently, a memorial for the miners was built in the center of the town. The memorial consists of a statue of a mother holding a baby and a small courtyard with dedications. Its opening was accompanied by visits from Gov. Joe Manchin III and a group from Italy, the homeland of many of the miners killed in the disaster.

Father Everett Francis Briggs oversaw the memorial project and died just a few days after its completion. On February 21, 2002, the West Virginia Legislature (House Concurrent Resolution no. 40) resolved "to name the bridge which traverses the West Fork River in Marion County, located .12 miles west of county route 27/2, the Father Everett Francis Briggs Bridge", in honor of Briggs' dedication to the forgotten victims of the 1907 tragedy and the mine widows.

The Motherhouse of an order of Religious women, Sisters, Auxiliaries of the Apostolate, was, until recently, located in Monongah, under the direction of Mother Mary Ursula. The school, St. Peter and Paul, housing grades kindergarten through eighth grade, provided an excellent education for many of the young men and women from Monongah and from as far away as Worthington, Shinnston, Farmington and Fairmont. The Sisters not only taught in the school, but also worked tirelessly in St. Barbara's Nursing Home, which was built as a memorial to the victims of the Monongah Mine Disaster. Father Everett Briggs was also instrumental in starting this facility.

For such a small community, Monongah consists of many villages or named neighborhoods. These include East Monongah, Brookdale, Traction Park, Thoburn, Tower Hill and West Monongah. Prior to being incorporated and named "Monongah," the town was called "Briartown."

The broadcast tower for the Fairmont AM radio station, WMMN, was constructed in the middle 1930s atop Tower Hill in Monongah. In 2004, Jack Meredith (1925-2007) recorded his recollections of growing up on Tower Hill, including the story of how he helped dig the ditches that electrically connected the three WMMN broadcast towers. [1]

The town's local cement block factory went out of business in 2002 and was torn down in 2003.

Not only does the West Fork (of the Monongahela River) run through the middle of Monongah but Booths Creek (named for a Civil War Captain) joins the West Fork in Monongah. Once a polluted waterway due to raw sewage and industrial runoff, it has become cleaner in recent years.

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