In the beginning of the last century the need for coal became great and in Wallonia mines were opened to extract the black gold from the ground.
One such mine was located near the town of Marcinelle and was known as Le Bois du Cazier. The mine was also the site of a disaster where many were killed.
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Italian lives lost in Belgian mine
At the Bois du Cazier, where many Italians worked, having left their war ravaged poor economy behind, many paid the ultimate price to their employers.
On August 8th, 1956 a fire started in the mines and 262 Italian and Belgian miners lost their lives due to the fact that management had never thought to come up with evacuation plans in case of such an incident.
Today the mine has been preserved and one can visit to learn about the disastrous day in Belgian history.
At the Bois du Cazier, after you spent time exploring the site and learned about Belgium during the industrial revolution when they not only produced coal but glass and steel, you can stop by the cafe and dig into a snack. There is a restuarant on the 2nd floor but I didn't visit it (think it was closed)
In the cafe we had a couple of croque monsieurs (ham and cheese on toast) along with some crudites. I also indulged in some local beer.
Within the compound of the Bois du Cazier, other than coal is another musuem - a museum of glass. The Charleroi region became very well known for glass making, and especially flat glass that began to be used for private houses, where those other than the rich could let the light in.
The other part of the museum includes glass through the ages, from Roman times in the forms of bottles and drinking vessels, to the art nouveau style to the most modern.