Story last updated at 12:35 p.m. on Friday, September 1, 2000

Lake City to celebrate its coal mining heritage Monday

by Donna Smith
Oak Ridger staff

People in the town of "Coal Creek" will be celebrating their coal-mining heritage on Monday, Labor Day, and they're inviting other interested people to join in.

Lake City was called Coal Creek until city officials changed the name after the Tennessee Valley Authority completed Norris Dam in 1936.

Activities for Coal Miners' Appreciation Day will be centered around the Lake City Athletic Field and Community Center, Main Street.

According to information from the city, the Lake City Coal Miners Museum will be open throughout the day of festivities, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The museum includes items used by coal miners in the past.

Videos and other multimedia will be shown to visitors in the meeting room next to the Miners Museum, located in the Community Center next to the Athletic Field.

Old slides taken following the Fraterville mining explosion of 1902, which killed approximately 180 men and boys in the mine near Lake City, will be shown. Other videos will include segments of WBIR-TV Channel 10's "The Heartland Series" focusing on coal-mining and the Fraterville explosion, and a video called "Chain Gang" from The History Channel.

"Chain Gang" focuses on the convict-lease system whereby convicts were used to mine coal, which was the main reason the coal miners in Coal Creek revolted in what is known as the "Coal Creek War" of 1891 and 1892.

A special dealers market will be set up in the Community Center gym, where antiques dealers and mining scrip and coin dealers will be available to purchase or trade items. Scrip was the "money" distributed by the coal-mining companies to the miners to use in purchasing food and other items from the company-owned stores.

Live music will be played on the ball field, along with other activities. The oldest living coal miner attending will get a $100 prize and a drawing will be held to give cash prizes to other current or former miners. The miners or former miners must bring some sort of documentation of their work -- such as their United Mine Workers of America card, or proof of black lung benefits, or safety certification.

Representatives from the black lung program are expected to set up a benefits counseling and information booth, as well as offer basic physical exams.