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  • Writer's pictureCathryn Stanley

Belmont County Heritage Museum Open for 2024 Season

The Belmont County Heritage Museum is now open for the 2024 season and will feature a year full of new exhibits, events, and speakers. In addition to local and regional history, exhibits throughout the year will explore indigenous cultures, Belmont County’s Hollywood connections, and local Civil War heroes.


On display through April, “Beneath the Surface: the Willow Grove Mine disaster” honors the brave 72 men that lost their lives in the 1940 mine explosion. Displays include mine equipment, artifacts, and photos. Join us on Thursday, April 18 at 6:00npm, to hear from United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members about their efforts to preserve and memorialize the Willow Grove Mine site. There will also be a screening of the new documentary “The Mine Disaster at Willow Grove” that includes interviews from one of the last living survivors, Walter Moskey. The documentary showcases what began as a typical day at Hanna Coal Company’s Willow Grove Mine, recognized as one of the country’s model mines, but ended in tragedy on March 16, 1940. 


“It was a cold March morning and that miner got up to go to his job, kissed his wife, told her he loved her, went to the job site, and in the blink of an eye his wife became a widow. It was a terrible thing when the mine blew up and all the lives that were taken,” said Mel Woods, UMWA Member.


This year marked the 84th Anniversary of the Willow Grove Mine Explosion. The UMWA hosts a memorial service in March each year at the memorial site. The Willow Grove Mine Memorial will be a featured stop along this year’s Belmont County Heritage Trail/Rubberneck Tour on Saturday, April 27th.


Other exhibits coming up this year include Belmont-County-themed photographs by the Ohio Valley Photography Club in May. Stop in during the St. Clairsville Downtown Business Association’s Art Walk on May 16 to meet the photographers.


In June the museum will highlight a recent donation from Harland Thomas of a Civil War sword that belonged to St. Clairsville native Colonel James Charlesworth. Curtis Kyer will give a presentation about Charlesworth and his involvement in the GAR on Thursday, June 13 at 6 p.m. at the St. Clairsville Public Library. On Thursday, June 20 at 6 pm, the Honorable Ed Sargus will discuss his new book on Civil War Capt. Thomas Drummond, a St. Clairsville native, who died at the battle of Five Forks in Virginia.


In July, the museum’s exhibit will spotlight Belmont County’s Hollywood history, including native actors and actresses, and filming locations. On Thursday, July 18 at 6 pm, historian Dan Frizzi, Jr. will present “Thanks for the Memories - Bob Hope in Bellaire” about Hope’s 1951 visit to Bellaire to promote the movie My Favorite Spy.


In late August, the museum will host the Great Circle Alliance’s touring exhibition Mounds, Moon & Stars: The Legacy of Ohio’s Magnificent Earthworks.


The Belmont County Heritage Museum is located in the historic former sheriff’s residence at 101 E. Main St. in St. Clairsville. In addition to rotating exhibits, you will find displays about the county’s sheriffs, artifacts from Belmont County communities representing their industries, landmarks, and important historical figures. The displays bring the spirit and history of each area together under one roof. From the designer of the USS Constitution to a major role in the glass industry, people can discover hidden gems that Belmont County is proud to hold in its history.


The Belmont County Heritage Museum is open Thursday through Saturday 10 am to 4 pm., and admission is by donation. For more information about this exhibit and the Belmont County Heritage Museum, visit or contact Cathryn Stanley, Museum Curator at 740-298-7020.

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