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Mine Disasters in the United States

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Cincinnati Mine Disaster Memorial
Pittsburgh Coal Company
Cincinnati Mine Explosion

Courtney, Pennsylvania
April 23, 1913
No. Killed - 97

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Successful Rescue

Sixty-seven miners escaped from the Cincinnati Mine following the explosion that claimed 97 lives on April 23, 1913, including one apparatus wearing rescuer.  Two miners were rescued after 60 hours.  Source document.


An explosion occurred in the Cincinnati mine, Wednesday, April 23, 1913, at about 12 o'clock noon, in which 97 men were killed, including one of the rescue party wearing breathing apparatus.

Of the number killed, probably 20 or more of them were suffocated, the balance being killed by the force of the explosion.  There were about 167 men in the mine at the time of the explosion.  Of this number about 67 escaped uninjured through old workings, and three were rescued alive - one by the first rescue parties and two sixty hours after the explosion by exploring parties.

Five mules were taken out alive on Sunday, April 27, four days after the explosion.

The coronerís jury placed the legal responsibility for the deaths of the 96 men killed upon the Mine Foreman McNeil, who was killed, for permitting open lights to be used in a section of the mine where gas was being generated in such large quantity; and the moral responsibility upon the Mining Laws of Pennsylvania, which does not render compulsory the use of safety lamps in such sections, but leaves such decision to the discretion of the Mine Foreman.

Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume I

Rescuer Death

On April 23, 1913, William McColligan, a member of a rescue crew of the Pittsburgh Coal Company, died while making an exploration trip ahead of fresh air after an explosion in the Cincinnati mine, operated by this company, in which 97 men were killed.

McColligan and his crew of five men were equipped with Draeger helmet-type apparatus, which had been carried into the mine by a reserve crew, so that the apparatus men would be in good condition for advance work.  After exploring a series of entries and starting back toward the fresh-air base McColligan collapsed.  The other crew members tried to drag him to fresh air, but two of them went down in the attempt; however, they were able to get to their feet and stumble to the fresh-air base.

Several men from the fresh-air base tried to reach McColligan without the use of apparatus but were unable to do so and his body was not recovered until after fresh air was directed into the place where he collapsed.

Two physicians then worked on him for over an hour, using artificial respiration, electric batteries, and a pulmotor, without response.

The apparatus worn by McColligan was examined by two representatives of the Bureau of Mines, who found that the flexible tube inserted in the thimble, directly over the injector, had been pulled out of its socket, thus permitting the toxic mine atmosphere to enter the apparatus.

Source: Loss of Life Among Wearers of Oxygen Breathing Apparatus (April 1944)  PDF Format

USBM Final Accident Investigation Report (5.0 Mb)  PDF Format


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