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In March, we completed our most recent grant when we picked up 314 of our Bruce Dreisbach glass plate negatives from Bernie's Photo Center and Photo Antiquities museum, located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh.

Photos were created from the negatives, some of which are 125 years old, that give us even more images to be either displayed at the Smog Museum or used in future presentations that bring "early" Donora to life.

This project was made possible by a 2013 matching grant from the State of Pennsylvania, through the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area in Homestead. The basis of the money that was matched was a generous donation in the name of the late Steven Acsai - a 1933 graduate of Donora High School and one of Jimmy Russell's boys who played football for the Dragons and earned a scholarship to North Carolina State. Mr. Acsai's son from North Carolina, also named Steven, took an interest in the Society and the Dreisbach collection and made the donation in his father's honor in 2012.

In April, we hosted Jim Cheney, a travel blogger who was touring Washington and Fayette counties for his website and who was interested in the Smog Museum by way of Washington County Tourism.

The Donora Historical Society went on the road to Monessen's Genealogical Meeting at the Monessen Library on Monday, April 21st, where we presented the story of Donora's favorite photographer, Bruce Dreisbach. New photos from the previously mentioned grant were used during the presentation.

On Saturday, May 3rd, "The Donora High School Class of 1953 remembers the 1948 Smog" was presented by former classmates who shared their personal stories of that infamous Halloween weekend in 1948. The Class of 1953 had been compiling stories for the past couple of years and this was their gift to the Historical Society.

On Saturday, June 7th at 1:30 p.m., nearby Gallatin native and local baseball legend Ron Necciai and Donora native Ken Barbao will 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 during a no-hitter. He is the only pitcher ever to do so in a nine-inning, professional-league game. Ron also played for the hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in 1952.

Members of the Donora Historical Society are looking forward to the Heinz History Center Affiliate Program (HCAP) meeting that will be held in McKeesport in June. This is the annual meeting where all HCAP members share tips and ideas for better maintaining their collections. If anyone has an interest in getting involved with the Donora Historical Society on this level, please do not hesitate to contact us.

There will not be any historical presentations in July or August due to our usual summer hiatus, but the Smog Museum will remain open.

The Cincinnati Mine Disaster presentation that was canceled due to inclement weather in March has been rescheduled for Monday, September 7th at 7 p.m. Even though the Cincinnati Mine was located north of New Eagle, the disaster that took place there in 1913 has a unique tie to Donora - 15 of the 98 miners were Catholic by faith and were brought to the St. Dominic's Catholic Cemetery in Donora by wagon to be buried in a mass grave.

The Donora-Webster Bridge presentation that was previously scheduled for Monday, May 5th will be rescheduled closer to the date when the bridge is expected to be razed, probably in October or November of 2014.

The fourth annual Cement City Home and Walking Tour will be scheduled for Sunday, October 19 at 1 p.m. The tour will start at the museum with a photo presentation on Donora's National Historic District – Thomas Edison's Cement City, as well as showing artifacts and original blueprints during the construction from 1916 and 1917. A walking tour will follow in the Historic District to point out some of the various architectural details.

If you have additional questions about the subjects mentioned above, the society, museum, meetings or possibly volunteering, feel free to stop by or email us at or by calling 724-823-0364 and leaving a message. Or visit us on the web at




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