Donora, home to about 5,000 people is a borough in Washington County, Pennsylvania, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh on the Monongahela river. Donora is a vibrant community rebuilding its industrial and business district. It is a garden spot located in the heart of the Mid Mon Valley.
Donora was incorporated in 1901. Donora got its name from a combination of William Donner and Nora Mellon, banker Andrew W. Mellon’s wife. Donora’s nickname is “The Home of Champions” mainly because of the large number of famous athletes that have called Donora their home. Agriculture, coal-mining, steel-making, wire-making, and other industries were conducted in Donora early in its history.
Late October 1948 a weather phenomenon occurred called inversion. The unusual weather trapped the fog and smoke in our community making it a recipe for disaster. At this time the sick and elderly were very susceptible to health issues brought on by the industrial pollution. The unwelcomed event left around 6,000 ill and caused 20 to lose their lives. As a result the disaster that shocked the country touched off a nationwide campaign against air pollution. It provided the impetus for studies resulting in major federal clean air laws. It also began this country’s environmental movement by focusing the nation’s attention on the harmful and sometimes fatal side effects on life and the environment from air, and especially industrial, pollution. The enactment of the Clean Air Act and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency are a legacy of the Donora tragedy. Donora became synonymous with the fight for clean air.