Big South Fork Announces Blue Heron Decoration Day on Saturday, May 16

Coal miners gathered together for group photo


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News Release Date: May 7, 2015

Contact: Chelsea Lauber, 606-376-3787

Contact: Bill Herman, 423-286-7275

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area announces the first annual Blue Heron Decoration Day. This event will be held at the Blue Heron Interpretive Center on Saturday, May 16, from 12:00 to 4:30 p.m. (ET). This is an opportunity for park visitors and families that once lived and worked in the Stearns Coal mining communities to join together for an afternoon of food, music, and fellowship. Participants are encouraged to bring their own picnic lunch, or food and drink will be available from the concession stand. There will be local and live music by the South Fork band and coal mining presentations on topics that include:

  • Life of a Coal Miner
  • A Stroll Through Time: Geology of the Plateau
  • Abandoned Mine Safety: Stay Out & Stay Alive
  • Coal Mining History of Blue Heron
  • Cleaning up the Past

This program is accessible by vehicle or by the Big South Fork Scenic Railway.

The park is interested in obtaining copies of historic photographs of the people, places and events that occurred in the Big South Fork area prior to the park's establishment. The park museum collection contains over 300 oral histories of local people, and there are hundreds of old photographs relating to the area. The National Park Service also recognizes that there are volumes more of important photographs that we would like to include in the permanent museum collection. During the upcoming Decoration Day event, park staff will be available to copy historic photographs of the Big South Fork area. Photo scanning will occur at the Blue Heron Depot, Kentucky (Mine 18), from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. (ET). It would be most helpful if photo owners can identify the places or people in the photograph, and they will need to sign a release for the Park Service to use the photos in documenting the park's history. In return for scanning a photo, the park will provide the photo owner with a free archival copy of the photograph (a copy on archival paper and permanent ink) and a digital copy of the photo if desired. For a digital copy, bring a CD or a flash drive or your email address.

So, bring photos of the old home place, family portraits and outings on May 16 to Blue Heron if you would like copies of those photos in the permanent Big South Fork museum collection. The Big South Fork staff appreciates the opportunity to learn more about family histories and the history of the area.

This Blue Heron Decoration Day is free of charge and wheelchair accessible. Everyone is welcome.

For directions or additional information, please call the park at (423) 286-7275 or (606) 376-3787. For tickets on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, please call (606) 376-5330.

Last updated: May 8, 2015

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