Today is the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Mine disaster, when 259 workers and rescuers died in a fire.

It was the third-worst mining disaster in United States history, and the tragic loss of life led to state and federal lawmakers establishing new rules to improve mine safety and worker safety. During the next two years, the U.S. Bureau of Mines was created and the state’s first worker’s compensation law was enacted for workers injured on the job.

The disaster garnered national attention, and it was happening at a coal mine in nearby Bureau County, five miles north of where Interstate 80 now crosses Route 89.

The anniversary will be commemorated this weekend with two days of events in Cherry. Hundreds of people are expected to visit the small town, so Starved Rock Lodge is providing free trolley transportation to and from Cherry to help alleviate the parking situation. On Saturday, the trolley will leave the lodge at 8:30 a.m. and return at noon, and leave again for Cherry at 12:30 p.m. and return to Starved Rock Lodge at 3:30 p.m. On Sunday the trolley will leave the lodge at 10 a.m. and return at 3:30 p.m.

For highlights of the weekend’s events, visit Ottawa Delivered by clicking here.