The Haunted Mine’s Last Scare

by on Jul.26, 2011, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Rotting Flesh Radio | Go to Original Post

by: RFR Casket Crew Maestro Macbre

I am sitting at my desk on a beautiful 90+ degree day reminiscing.  A day like this reminds me of great days working on my first haunt.  Unfortunately, today I received word that “The Haunted Mine” will be no more.

Just north of Pittsburgh off of Exit 14  on route 28 sits a tree lined hill side that hides one of the gems of the area.  UndAerneath the booming steel towns lies miles and miles of tunnels rich with coal.  The earliest records indicate the mine was active in 1850.  After almost a century of mining, ex-miner Ira Wood purchased purchased the mine for a unique purpose: to educate.  Wood, a charismatic man weathered by years in the tunnels loved mining and loved spooks.  A portion of the mine was turned into a tour into the hills of western PA.  This educational mine includes a full mining museum, a ride in on a “man trip” and acres of land.

In 2004, Wood along with ex-miner Bob Black toyed with an interesting idea.  To create income in the fall, why not spook it up!  Wood loved the thought and unfortunately didn’t see it’s first season.  Starting out as a modest haunt with your normal home haunt tricks and scares developed into a must see attraction including 3 separate haunts lasting over 20 minutes.  The final season boasted pneumatic props, miles of wire and a great crew that looked to the future.

Lead by Black he assemble one of the most passionate and talented group of amateurs devoted solely to creating a terrorizing haunt.  Nate Derringer, part of the crew from year one, devoted every waking minute to the haunt.  Bringing in Jason Shumaker as lead carpenter, and then  designer Larry Tempo, who joined in 2005.  With this trio the mine soon rocketed to the level of professional haunt.  In 2008, I joined the group to build and led the technical team.

Derringer, Shumaker and Tempo spent endless hours on the haunt.  As all of you know, it’s not cheap or easy.  It was a 2nd full time job.  Armed with a screw gun, luaun and paint brushes, they along with myself and countless others turned a real mine and museum into a terrifying subterranean nightmare.

Local News Coverage

The Mine itself is claimed to be haunted by several deaths that occurred while in operation.  The spirit of Ira Wood has also been noted to rear his head every once in a while!  A witness firsthand, one night while programming a boobox, I heard footsteps in the museum area, it is very distinct, as it was a raised airplane hanger style building.  It sat on braces and the floors had a unique squeak.  Figuring it was Larry, I worked away, even shouting to him at one point.  However I walked 200 or so feet up the path when I had finished several minutes later to find all 3 people accounted for, not moving since I went down.

In 2009, Hollywood invaded using the mine as the backdrop for the horror remake of  My Bloody Valentine This opened up a world of opportunity.

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Hollywood Scouts On Location

The next 3 years were the best of my life, as I’m sure many of you look fondly back on your first haunt experiences.

I left the mine in 2010 to pursue my own music and dive deeper into the world of professional haunts.  It wasn’t easy.  The mine was perfect for a haunt and suffered with uncooperative owners.  Never getting the full support meant limited funds, little advertising and a constant struggle to stay open.

In the final year the haunt consisted of a 3-D haunt, a haunted mine, and post apocalyptic junkyard.  My brother, Jake Karan, took my spot and excelled in every area.

Larry Tempo, painstakingly hand painted the 3D haunt, which could compete with any professional haunt out there.  Not to mention decorating each previous year.  The amount of work is staggering!

Jason Shumaker, using the skills he acquired on the sets of feature films, led construction.  He’s professional skills creating some incredibly detailed work and with impeccable craftsmanship.

Nathan Derringer held it all together.  Even when tempers and ego’s flared, Nathan was the glue.  Always calm and cool.

Each deserves and will be associated with the haunt industry for years to come.

The Haunt would only go up from here, having it’s most successful season yet.  However, most of the burden fell directly on Bob Black.  He would purchase paint, lumber, booboxes and lunch every day out of his own pocket.  A great guy with a heart as big as his smile, often seen wearing a dress and a blonde wig, was the only board member of the mine that understood the scope of the haunt and the promise of the future.  It was Ira Wood’s dream, but due to a poorly written Will, the fate of the mine laid in the hands of three people.

The final nail in the toe pincher coffin was today, the Haunted Mine was put to rest when the two remaining votes denied the crew to return.

Speaking for myself as well as the other crew:  None of this would have been possible with the countless volunteers and sponsors.  With notable crew being Dan, Christine, Ashley and Marc; all volunteering many hours for the haunt.

Lastly, never ending thanks goes out to Bob Black, whose generosity and youthful love for Halloween and haunts kept the passion and love alive.  Hopefully, the mine will be resurrected one day again, just as Ira Wood did back in 1964.


R.I.P.  The Haunted Mine 2004-2010

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