Sunday, December 28, 2008
A new glimpse into the Donora story
August Chambon, the mayor of Donora, Pa., during the infamous smog of 1948, said he expected his borough to someday become a city.
But he couldn’t have been more wrong because the former steel town, today, is a third of its size six decades after it experienced the nation’s deadliest air pollution disaster. The smog is among the many reasons Donora’s mills became the first in a long line of these factories that permanently shut down in America from Philadelphia to Chicago.
Fortunately, for the sake of history, California University of Pennsylvania has preserved a tape recording of a short speech Chambon gave the year of the smog. It’s among a new digital file of old photos and other documents the university created on the rise of Donora and the smog that helped to bring about the nation’s first clean air laws.
The new exhibit has been assembled by Nick Roberts, a Cal U. instructional specialist who helps local schoolteachers gain access to the National Library of Congress' digital files in developing their lesson plans. Click here to sort through the new Donora files.
(The photo of the wire works at American Steel & Wire Co. in Donora, taken in July 1925, and the one of Chambon are courtesy of the Donora Historical Society and California University of Pennsylvania)