PORTHENRY-The Moriah Historical Society is seeking volunteers to help man the Iron Center museum this summer.
"The volunteers are our greeters," explained Joan Daby, historical society president. "We are still lucky enough to have 3 or 4 who actually worked in the mines or on surface for Republic Steel Corp., who can be a source of information about their work there. Others we have, have some knowledge of the mining era or can answer questions about our town and village."
The Iron Center museum will open for the season on Saturday, June 18. The museum will be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 3:00 p.m. throughout the summer.
Interested volunteers should contact RSVP at 546-3565.
The Iron Center Museum in Port Henry brings the industrial history of Moriah to life.
Located at Park Place, adjacent to the Moriah town hall, the museum gives visitors a glimpse at the iron ore mining and railroad industries when they flourished in the community.
The museum opened in 1998 and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
"So much of our museum has written information for the public to read," Daby said. "They can learn a lot from that. Also, we have videos of presentations that we show, that we have had done in the past with people involved with the mines. As far as new displays, we keep adding some items that people donate to us."
The Moriah Iron Center Museum opened a new exhibit last summer, two 18 x 36-inch panels which show a town of Moriah timeline with some photos and dates of special happenings throughout the years. The exhibit was obtained through a Quadricentennial Mini-Grant from New York State. The panels are displayed in the diorama room of the museum.
Besides an exhibition area, the museum has an office, an upstairs research area, rest rooms and a gift shop.
Outside the museum building, a locomotive, iron ore car and caboose are on display on a length of track.
A highlight of the museum is a scale diorama of the circa 1960 Republic Steel mine yard in Mineville.
The model was created by William Kissan of Westport, a master modeler, Jim Kinley of Willsboro, who specializes in miniature electronics, and Brian Venne of Moriah, a model train hobbyist.
Visitors to the museum experience the exhibit as if they are miners entering the yard from the change house.
Visitors see all the above ground buildings with vehicles and trains that carry the ore. They also see the surrounding area painted on the walls as murals-east, west, north and south of the mine yard. Elaine Sears of Crown Point is painting the walls.
Also contained in the exhibit are underground mining operations that depict the different eras, from digging to blasting to drilling to, finally, the use of heavy motorized equipment underground.
During the period depicted by the model, the early 1960s, Republic Steel employed about 450 men-250 underground and 200 in the mine yard-in Mineville. At that time miners had reached a depth of 2,400 feet below the level of Lake Champlain.
There is also a slide show on the old Arctic City movie industry and the recent episodes of Star Trek filmed in Port Henry.
Moriah officially became a town Feb. 12, 1808, when the state legislature approved Moriah's request to become separate from the town of Crown Point. Moriah traces its history to the 18th Century. After the Treaty of 1763, soldiers were given land by King George for their service in the French and Indian War.
Iron ore was discovered in those lands, lumber and grist mills sprang up, farms started, furnaces were built, and the shipping of ore started, first by water, then by railroad.
Many families came to work in the iron ore mining industry, which flourished from around 1824-1971.