Tamaqua Author, Victor Merkel, knows something about mining disasters. In the early 1950s, Betty Merkel, an in-law, lost her father to sub-standard mine supports at one of the big coal companies. They pulled him from the mountain, his body, crushed by tons of coal ore. Safety, during those times, suffered from questionable standards and enforcement. The loss and sense of injustice gnaw at him to this day. However, for Merkel, the dangers of coal mining stood front and center when he reached 16. Under the guidance of a kindly old mentor, he entered the world of bootleg mining. Borrowing pigeons from local farmers, he lowered them into mountain digs to test for methane. As for safety standards, none existed. Since these types of illegal ventures operated in the shadows of legitimate mining, accidents might never be reported or bodies recovered.
For an indefinite period, 100% of the proceeds of the electronic book version of “Misery Mountain” will be donated directly to First Community Bank, Mine Disaster Fund, for the 29 families who lost loved ones in the Big Branch Mine, Montcoal, West Virginia.
“Misery Mountain” is available as a download in all the popular formats (Kindle-.mobi)
Homer Hickam, (October Sky-1999) couldn’t have expected how inspiring the message of human values in 1950’s Coalwood, WV would be to millions of people. Vision, persistence, dedication plus a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world put Homer on a path to fulfill his passion at NASA. But it all started with coal, still a prime commodity our country depends on, even after all these years. When author, Victor Merkel, wrote “Misery Mountain” he also drew from his roots in coal-town, Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. Unlike Homer, he bootlegged and sold bags of coal on the street to poor people who lived in despair, hand to mouth on a daily basis. With early exposure to such harsh circumstances, Merkel developed an awareness of the value he brought to those needy souls. It inspired him to reach the highest level of Corporate Sales. We must never forget what these miners sacrificed - for their families, our nation, you and me.
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Misery Mountain, an intense thriller, set in the mountains of Schuylkill County near Tamaqua, PA, follows teen, Vance Remke, on a journey from bootlegging illegal coal to coping with a dysfunctional family. And amid the chaos, an enemy plots his death.