Lehigh Valley

Memorial to victims of 1942 cement plant blast unveiled

Memorial for industrial accident

LOWER MOUNT BETHEL TWP., Pa. - A memorial to the victims of the Lehigh Portland Cement Company blast was unveiled in Martins Creek on Saturday.

The monument is dedicated to the 31 men who died after an explosion at the Lehigh Portland Cement Company quarry in 1942.

"It is a historical event and like other historical events, it deserves a monument," said Rich Grucela.

Grucela, a former State Representative, said he and a group of friends learned about the explosion that devastated the village of Martins Creek and wanted to create a memorial for the victims and their families.

Grucela says he originally wanted a roadside marker but after thousands of dollars of unsolicited donations rolled in, he and his wife Gina had collected enough money to create a large memorial monument that was placed in Church Hill Cemetery.

"Never in my fondest dreams did I think this was going to the end result of what we started out to do," Grucela said. "These were hard working men. They were raising their families."

The cause of the blast is still unknown and many families members of the victims have also passed away.

LINK: HISTORY'S HEADLINES - The Day the Earth Shook

"I am proud of the committee that put this together," said Stella Miechur Sundy.

Sundy says she was a small child when the blast killed her father, brother and great uncle but says it changed her family and Martins Creek forever and is glad to see the victims will be remembered for years to come.

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