Tribute honors men killed building W.Va. tunnel

SUMMERSVILLE (AP) — A tribute has been held for hundreds of men who died while digging a tunnel through Gauley Mountain in the 1930s.

Media outlets report a ceremony was held Friday in Summersville. A monument also was dedicated at a nearby cemetery to consecrate the graves of 41 black workers who died in the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel’s construction.

At least 764 men who built the tunnel died within five years of its completion in 1931.

At the time, black workers couldn’t be buried in Fayette County cemeteries alongside whites due to so-called Jim Crow laws. Some of the bodies had to be moved when U.S. 19 was widened in the 1970s and were reburied a few miles down the road in Summers County. Memorial candles were lit at the cemetery Friday.

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