PROVIDENCE, Ky. (WEHT) – Coal mines may be fading from the nation’s horizon, but a statue in Providence, Kentucky is there to remind everyone of the community’s link to that industry.
The park the statue is in was built in 1990 to pay homage to the town’s mining history. In front of the statue are plaques that indicate a time capsule to be opened in 2040, the literary piece “Portrait of a Coal Miner,” a donor list and commemorations to the town’s 100th and 150th anniversaries. The statue was sculpted by Steve Shields.
Carol Hill with Providence Tourism says the statue’s official name is “Portrait of a Coal Miner.” Hill says the statue is made of solid copper and she confirmed the statue was created by sculptor Steve Shields from Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1990 and she said the statue had a price tag of $25,000.
Hill says there is a poem below the statue called “Portrait of a Coal Miner,” which is also where the statue’s name originated. There is also a list of community donors that helped make the artwork possible. Hill notes the statue was erected and dedicated in September 1990. The man that modeled for the statue is Bobby Shoulders, a Providence resident who worked at the nearby Dotiki coal mine.
Hill says Providence State Bank owned the lot where the park is now located and donated it to the city of Providence. A group of donors and the Chamber of Commerce decided to do a community venture and created a park dedicated to the community’s coal mining industry. The park was established in 1990 by the Providence Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Providence State Bank, the city of Providence and other community donors.
Hill notes adjacent to the statue are the 100th (1840-1940) and 150th (1840-1990) commemorative anniversary plaques. Directly behind the statue is a bench dedicated in memory of those who lost their lives in the Duvin Mine explosion in 1939. Lastly, a time capsule was buried next to the statue in September 1990 and Hill confirms the capsule is to be opened in the year 2040.
Hill explains, “This hometown statue honors and is dedicated to our coal miners and the coal mining community. We are very proud of this historical roadside attraction and are pleased to know people travel to view it and are interested in its history.”
The statue can be found in a park next to the Post Office, which is located at 107 East Main Street in Providence.
This is the seventh of a weekly twenty-one-part series that will help educate about some roadside attractions in the Eyewitness News viewing area. Check in every Sunday at 8 a.m. for the next one! Last week’s installment can be found here.