By Dena Angaran Forret
Photo Above: Richard and Bruno with sculpture
In 2010 a new Waukee elementary school opened to serve the students of Clive and Urbandale in Dallas County. One of eight elementary schools in the Waukee Community School District, it is situated near the former site of the Shuler Coal Mine at 16400 Douglas Parkway in the city of Clive.
A group of passionate citizens who had a personal link to the mining camp formed a Shuler Mine Committee with a goal to historically preserve the legacy of the mine, their families and friends who lived and worked there and to remember the contribution the mine and the miners made to Waukee, the state of Iowa, and the nation. On October 14, 2010, their efforts were rewarded at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication naming the new Waukee School – Shuler Elementary. A special area inside the school is dedicated to the mining industry, with mining artifacts on display that allows visitors to view and learn about the Shuler Coal Mine and the coal industry.
Remembering the Shuler Coal Mining Camp and its contribution to the community, the committee coordinated a fund raising campaign to purchase a memorial sculpture to be placed in front of Shuler Elementary. Black Diamond”, created by Des Moines artists Rebecca Ekstrand and Thomas Rosborough, features a piece of coal, or “black diamond,” supported by four steel beams reaching 12-foot high. Four different vignettes are displayed at the base of the art piece, honoring the strength and sacrifices of the Shuler Mining Camp miners and their families.
Bruno Andreini of our parish and Richard Ori, a former member of St. Boniface Church, were members of the committee and are featured with the beautiful sculpture in the photo above.
Richard’s brother, Hiram Ori – a former resident and 1941 graduate of Waukee Consolidated School, bequeathed the sum of $700,000 to the Waukee Library. He believed deeply in the role of public libraries to educate and inspire people, particularly young people. Hiram spent his youth in Waukee, growing up in the Shuler Mining Camp along with his parents, Ernest and Casimira Ori (Italian Immigrants who moved to Waukee in the 1920’s), and ten other siblings. The bequest, given after his death, was used by the family to construct the Shuler Mine Museum and a meeting room at the Waukee Library.
If you have not seen Shuler Elementary, the memorial, or the museum, you might want to stop by. The museum is designed to resemble the interior of a mine. A book created by the Shuler Mine Committee called The Shuler Coal Mine is a good read and full of pictures of the people, work and mining industry during that time in history.
The Shuler Coal Mine Book
Waukee Historical Photos
Des Moines Register Articles
Waukee School Website