Whether we are entertaining new groups of people or rotating our exhibits, the Museum is always a hub of activity. Please enjoy these candid photos of some of our more recent events and visitors.
In September 2022, Washington & Jefferson College Environmental Studies professor Dr. Robert East brought his First-Year Seminar students as part of their Pop! Goes the Environment class to the Smog Museum to learn about the 1948 Smog. This course introduces various communication strategies and approaches for messaging, framing, and using propaganda in depicting the natural and human-built environment in popular culture within the United States and abroad. The roles of media in presenting science in the public square are also identified and critiqued. These students were from California, PA to LA, California and all points in between. The class arrived in the morning for a 1948 Smog presentation and Q&A. After lunch at the Early Bird Diner, a driving tour of the industrial park capped off the day to see where the steel mill and zinc works used to be. Dr. East is a frequent visitor and proud supporter of the Donora Historical Society.
In April 2022, Dave Ormandy made a return trip to Donora after travelling from London, Ontario, Canada to Pittsburgh for a week of watching the Pittsburgh Pirates, one of his favorite baseball teams. Dave never disappoints by dressing in appropriate Stan Musial/St. Louis Cardinals gear. A driving tour rounded out his trip this time to see various Musial sites. Dave has been to the Smog Museum before, and we expect him to return in the future.
In February 2022, WTAE Channel 4 News anchor Shannon Perrine stopped by to interview a 1948 Smog survivor for a small segment of their hour-long Chronicle show, titled "Forecasting Our Future," an effort by WTAE and Hearst Television to explore the impact of weather on all aspects of our lives. We set her up with Dr. Charles Stacey who was a senior at Donora High School at that time. Video Journalist Brian Caldwell of WTAE-TV is behind the camera. Additional interviews with Historical Society volunteers also took place.
In October 2019, Ninety-six-year-old Joseph Anthony “Tony” Muniz stopped in at the Smog Museum with his step-grandson as part of their journey to retrace Tony's steps in life. They came from King City, Oregon, just outside of Portland. Tony was born in 1923 in West Virginia after his family immigrated to the U.S. from Spain to work in the zinc industry. They then moved to Donora to work in the Zinc Works when Tony was a young child. Tony attended school, but never graduated from Donora High School due to missing too much schoolwork after a traffic accident. He went on to work in the Zinc Works in 1940 instead of returning to school and then went off to fight in WWII from 1943 to 1946. After the war, he settled in California and then Oregon to start his family. After hearing Tony's story, we searched and found his name on the Zinc Works WWII Honor Roll plaque that was hung inside the plant during and after the war. He had no idea about the plaque and was really excited to see his name. We told him that after all these 77 years, we didn’t forget about him in Donora. Tony is shown in the photo pointing to his name. It was the first time for us to have an original WWII veteran find their name on that old plaque. Thanks for stopping in Tony and welcome home!!
In August 2019, the Shell Polymers Monaca Site - Environmental Team from Beaver County visited the Smog Museum for a half day workshop to educate us on their natural gas manufacturing facility's attention to air emissions in exchange for us educating them on what took place in Donora during the 1948 Smog that led the way for clean air legislation.
In August 2019, the Kowall Brothers stopped in the Smog Museum during their homecoming for a reunion to donate a Stan Musial autographed baseball. Front row (L-R) in front of the Stan Musial display: Sam Kowall (class of 65) from South Carolina, Bill Kowall (class of 64) from California and Jack Kowall (class of 66) from Georgia. The baseball was from around 1954 and owned by Bill.
In July 2019 during the All-Class Reunion held on July 13, 2019, former high school basketball stars stopped in at the Smog Museum to reconnect with original Ringgold Rams basketball uniform they used to wear in the early 1970s (L-R) Ron Haten - from rival Belle Vernon (class of 1974), Eric James - Ringgold-Donora (class of 1975), Mike Brantley - Ringgold-Mon City (class of 1974) and Art "Skins" Coleman - Ringgold-Donora (class of 1972).
In June 2019, we hosted "Living Legends of Donora Dragon Football" (L-R) Bob "Bones" Rosborough (class of 53,) Lou "Bimbo" Cecconi (class of 46,) and Rich "Moch" Mongelluzzo (class of 57) at the Donora Public Library who discussed their experiences about growing up in Donora and playing for the Dragons.
In October 2018, we hosted (L-R) Dr. Robert East and Dr. Han Ye from Washington and Jefferson College, and their visitors Dr. Qinfang Fan and her daughter and PhD candidate Haomin Lin from China Petroleum University in Qingdao, China who stopped by the Smog Museum to learn more about the 1948 Smog.
In October 2017, we hosted one of fieldtrips of the Society of Environmental Journalists during their annual conference that was held in Pittsburgh over five days. Thirty five journalists from all over the United States representing various news and journalistic organizations from places such as Utah and Seattle, as well as universities that included: Harvard, Columbia, Michigan, Colorado Boulder, Radford, Carnegie Mellon, Wisconsin-Madison, and Montana, spent 2.5 hours touring the industrial park that once included American Steel and Wire and the Zinc Works, and then received a presentation on the infamous 1948 Smog followed by a Q&A with various local survivors, educators, and relatives of victims.
In August 2017, the Washington County Community Foundation (WCCF) - Women of Philanthropy Giving Circle visited the Smog Museum to not only hold their quarterly meeting, but to view the photos that were most recently developed from 100-year-old glass plate negatives from a WCCF Hart Fund History Grant that was awarded in 2016. The photo presentation featured Donora women in hats and children from 1910 to 1930. Some of the women in attendance included (left to right) Gwendolyn Simmons, WCCF President and CEO Betsie Trew, California University of Pennsylvania President Geraldine Jones, Lynne Stout and Amy Brown.
In August 2017, the Air Quality program staff (21 total) of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of Pennsylvania visited the Smog Museum, some as far as Harrisburg, to learn more about the cultural history of the 1948 Smog via a presentation. After a lunch at Duke's Café, DEP staff reciprocated by presenting information on thetopographical, weather, and pollution conditions that caused the event and the numerous safeguards in place to prevent a repeat occurrence. Staff from Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation from Homestead also attended.
In July 2016, Ellie Miller of Seattle, WA visited Donora on her return trip from Cooperstown, NY after the induction ceremonies at the Baseball Hall of Fame of her favorite player -- Donora native Ken Griffey, Jr. Ellie toured the museum and went on a driving tour of Donora that included the homes that Ken Jr. lived in before relocating to Cincinnati when his father Ken, Sr. played for the Reds. That evening Ellie attended the Mariners vs. Pirates game at PNC Park.
In March 2016, along with other local historical societies, a display was setup for the "Voices from the Mon Valley: Oral History and Local Resources" exhibit at the California University of Pennsylvania Manderino Library Gallery Room. The Bruce Dreisbach glass plate negative photo collection was featured. The exhibit ran from March 24th to April 9th.
In August 2015, the Class of 1953 and their spouses stopped by the Smog Museum for the third year in a row for their mini-class reunion. L-R: Charles Berestecky (spouse), Marlene Petrus Berestecky (53), Bob "Bones" Rosborough (53), Ron Campbell (53), Karen Campbell (spouse), Bill Pikor (53), Joy Pikor (spouse) and Marlene Amatangelo Perok (53).
In July 2015, lifelong Stan "The Man" Musial fan Jerry Rombach and his wife Cindy made the pilgrimage from Kenai, Alaska to Stan's birthplace -- Donora. Both were treated to their own personalized Stan Musial presentation and driving tour of places and buildings that molded Musial. Jerry was born and raised in St. Louis. Cindy was born and raised in Alaska and rooted for Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. when they played for the Seattle Mariners. The Rombachs were in Pittsburgh for a convention, but their first stop was Donora.
In November 2014, Mr. Ross Verbisky stood beside the framed Stan Musial autographed replica St. Louis Cardinals jersey he would donate to the Donora Historical Society. This jersey will be the centerpiece of our Musial display, portions of which can be seen in the background to the right of Mr. Verbisky, a native of California, PA who makes his home in Missouri. You can read more about Mr. Verbisky and his very generous donation in a story that was featured in The Valley Independent/ Tribune Review - Ross Verbisky backstory.
In October 2014, Ringgold Middle School students pose for a group picture during our 2014 Environmental Conference on Digital Storytelling at the Donora Borough building that was attended by over 135 students, teachers, volunteers, professors and interested people.
In August 2014, during the festivities of welcoming the Towler Family to the Donora Borough Building for the dedication and renaming of Washington Avenue to "Deacon" Dan Towler Way. Lou "Bimbo" Cecconi (left) - a member of the 1945 football team that played with Towler, along with Joe "Chip" DeFelicis (right), hold the trophy that Towler, Bimbo and Chip's brother Francis "Gus" DeFelicis were awarded for winning the WPIAL football championship 69 years ago. The 1944 WPIAL trophies for football and basketball are in the background along with other Towler memorabilia.
In June 2014 Gallatin native and local baseball legend Ron Necciai (left), along with Donora native and accomplished baseball player in his own right - Ken Barbao (right), stopped by the Smog Museum to share their experiences of growing up in the Mon Valley and playing professional baseball. Necciai is best remembered for the unique feat of striking out 27 batters in a nine-inning game which he accomplished in the Class-D Appalachian League on May 13, 1952, while pitching a no-hitter. He is the only pitcher to do so in a nine-inning professional-league game. The baseball used in that game is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Necciai also played for the hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in 1952. Barbao and Necciai started in the minor leagues together and once pitched and won games in the same doubleheader. Barbao also once roomed in the minors with a young future Pirate Bill Mazeroski, and his father Joe Barbao (seen in some of the Dreisbach photos to the far right) was an early baseball mentor to Stan Musial. A story was featured in the TribLive on Ron Necciai. titled, "Gallatin native goes to bat for Donora Historical Society program" and another TribLive article on Ron Necciai.titled "Necciai feat still far-reaching."
In November 2012 Pioneer Productions from London, England spent three days filming a new documentary at the museum on the 1948 Smog for the upcoming Weather Channel series "When Weather Changed the World." Offering an expert opinion during the filming was Donora native and world-renowned epidemiologist Devra Davis (center). The Pioneer film crew from left to right are Kev Robertson (cameraman) from Los Angeles, CA by way of Scotland; Peter Barker (assistant producer) from London, England; Brian Copenhagen (soundman) from Oakland, CA; and David Firstbrook (researcher) from London, England.
Joan Anzalone Thill stopped by the Museum with her family from Long Island, New York in November 2012. Joan is a student at Farmingdale State College and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Horticulture that she hopes will help her family's landscaping business one day. Joan was doing research for an Ecology class project on temperature inversions and the 1948 Smog event. If you thought it might be too far to travel from Long Island to Donora to do research, Joan would say, "Forgetaboutit..."
Betsy Chou (center), along with her father (left), brother (right) and mother (not shown) visited the museum from Shanghai, China in the summer of 2012. In 2011, the Society helped Betsy with her school project at Concordia University in China on environmental issues and the 1948 Smog. Betsy was in the United States visiting Ivy League schools to see where she may further her education. Betsy and her family took time out on their trip to see Donora and learn more about the event that shaped her research. Her website can be found on our Links tab.
Cal U of PA and English Honors - Digital Storytelling students: Rachael Fawley and Corrine Dowlin are shown at the premiere of their video at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center on Donora during the 1948 Smog. They also contributed to a similar video on Cement City and the Donora Historical Society. To see their video projects, click on the 1948 Smog tab, the Cement City tab, and the About Us tab.
WWII U.S. Navy veteran Nicholas Uhriniak takes a closer look at our WWI poster collection during our veteran's exhibit that was on display when Donora hosted the rotating Veteran's Day Parade in November 2011.
Rostraver Cub Scout Pack 1590 stopped by in February 2011 to get a tour of the museum, learn something about how the 1948 Smog disaster impacted Webster and Rostraver, and earn a merit badge. They are shown here in various historical hats.
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