Friday, February 22, 2008
Donora is spooky without "TV tunnels"
DONORA, Pa. – A popular television thriller series about the “ghostly” otherworld is making a star out of Donora.
CBS’s "Ghost Whisperer” is set in the fictional town of Grandview, which is actually a section of Donora, and at least one plot line involved mysterious tunnels that are supposed to be under its downtown.
Most likely, however, the Donora underground exists in the vivid imagination of one of the show’s executive producers, Kim Moses, who grew up in the borough, locals say. She also was once married to professional football legend, Joe Montana, who grew up in nearby Monongahela.
“That has to be fiction,” said Donora photographer Chuck Muia, 75, who knows the borough inside and out.
Moses is an incredibly gifted woman who has often incorporated Donora in the plot lines of her productions, said borough council President Karen Polkabla.
“Ghost Whisperer” stars Jennifer Love Hewitt as the fictional Melinda Gordon, who communicates with spirits and ghosts that have unfinished business on earth. An earlier story line involved a war memorial in a town park that was inspired by one that existed in Donora.
Polkabla never heard of the tunnels, either, and laughed at the thought of a mysterious underworld in the borough.
“Cool. Maybe that’ll bring visitors,” she said.
Muia said many houses in the Mon Valley have tunnels in their basements where people used to mine coal to feed their home furnaces. Others were known to tunnel into basements to create a personal fallout shelters during the Cold War, he said.
There is a creepy old network of large sewers leading to the Monongahela River from the former U.S. Steel mill that once dominated the riverfront, Muia said. Those sewers were sealed, though, because children were known to climb into them, he said.
But as far as tunnels under the businesses, “There’s nothing to that,” Muia added. “If that were the case, (a bank) would have been robbed a long time ago.”
(Photo caption: A still night along Donora's main street otherwise known as McKean Avenue)