2019 National Mining Hall of Fame Inductees

SOURCE: NMHFM | December 30, 2019

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum (NMHFM) is pleased to announce the class of 2019 National Mining Hall of Fame inductees.  This year’s inductees, selected by the National Mining Hall of Fame’s Board of Governors, represent exceptional financial acumen in assembling several operations which formed the basis of a successful American mining company; conception and development of equipment which contributed to improved efficiency and mine safety; and, unrelenting advocacy for  the U.S. mining industry and its workers. These individuals, selected for being determined, forward-thinking innovators, doers, and leaders have propelled the industry toward vastly improved safety and social responsibility.

The Prazen Living Legend of Mining Award, named for renowned mining artist Gary Prazen, will also be presented at the ceremony.  This award recognizes an individual or organization for significant and sustained commitment to educating the public about the relationship of mining to our everyday lives through educational materials, programming, and outreach.

2019 National Mining Hall of Fame Inductees:

Frank Calandra, Jr. has devoted over 50 years to the mining industry; he is an icon in ground control technology for the mining, tunneling, and civil construction industries.  From the ground up, his passion, sweat equity, and shrewd business acumen have grown Frank Calandra, Inc. (FCI) and Jennmar from a single plant in Pennsylvania to a world-class enterprise with 25 plants employing thousands globally. As evidenced by Calandra’s 20+ patents on ground control devices (not to mention the additional 80 patents his companies hold), his innovation and commitment to safety have made underground mining safer and more efficient.  In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Calandra was instrumental in upgrading ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards in roof control for both state and federal regulations. Through his work with industry associations such as the National Mining Association, National Coal Council, and Center for Energy and Economic Development, among others, Calandra has contributed his time, expertise, and financial support to ensure a balanced political and regulatory climate for mining.  Calandra is an inductee of the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame.

Robert E. Cannon was a renowned inventor of many products used in the mining industry, the Raise Drill and the Underground Blast Hole Drill being the most notable.  In March 1962, while employed by Security tools as North American Sales Manager, he visited the Homer-Wauseca mine in Northern Michigan. Asked for advice on putting out a fire that had developed in an open stope four levels underground, Cannon came up with the idea of creating a larger raise hole, thus using the dirt from the hole opening to put out the fire.  A hole was drilled from the upper level through the stope to the level below and the bit was removed.  He then obtained a larger rock bit, known as a hole opener, had the bit welded upside down to the drill pipe and reamed the hole larger from a level above by pulling the bit back to the drill that created the original hole.  The fire extinguished as the falling rock chips filled the stope, without any injuries to the workers. A few years later, he invented another drill using down-the-hole hammers as the method of drilling a larger diameter blast hole than a top mounted drifter type of drill.  Both types of drills are used in virtually every underground hard rock mine in the world.  Not only have both pieces of equipment increased production in the mining industry, but the Raise Drill also eliminated one of the most dangerous jobs in mining, the raise driller, saving countless lives over the years.

Robert H. Freeman’s pioneering endeavors started a revolution in U.S. underground coal mining and changed the nature of underground coal mining forever. Freeman had the foresight to see how the longwall system, developed for European mining conditions, could be adapted to U.S. applications. He recognized that modifications in the design and operation of longwall faces could result in significant increases in production, productivity, and safety in the U.S. In the 1950s as Chief Engineer for Eastern Associated Coal Corp., Freeman imported mechanized longwall systems into the metallurgical coal seams in southern West Virginia. He led the complete process, including feasibility, acquisition, installation, and operation of mechanized longwall mining equipment in North America. Under Freeman’s leadership, the potential for improved safety and lower cost, compared to room and pillar mining methods, were soon evident. Freeman’s resolve to adapt longwall to the U.S. mining industry resulted in significant changes in extracting coal, leading to the very highly efficient and safe systems found operating the world over today. 

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is one of the most famous labor activists in the cause of economic justice. Her battle cry, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” truly said it all.  Her powerful speeches and knack for theatrics encouraged many to form unions and strike for fair wages and safe working conditions. Known as the “Miner’s Angel” for her advocacy on their behalf, Mother Jones’s activism set the stage for the labor and safety laws we all benefit from today. A champion of the working class, she organized numerous miners’ strikes against low pay, 12-hour days, 7-day work weeks, extreme mortality rates, and child labor, and railed against the servitude of company stores and company housing.  When she began organizing for the United Mine Workers Union in the 1890s, it had 10,000 members; within a few years, 300,000 men had joined.  Hearing Jones speak, you discovered the secret of her influence – she had force, she had wit, and above all she had the fire of indignation. Mother Jones’s impassioned work is recognized in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, U.S. Department of Labor’s Hall of Honors, and the Irish American Hall of Fame.

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