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Mine Disasters in
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Lehigh Valley Coal Company
Dorrance Mine Explosion

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
October 7, 1895
No. Killed - 7



From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Successful Rescue

Five men, all badly burned, were brought to the surface at 8:00 p.m. following an explosion which occurred sometime in the late afternoon in the Dorrance mine.  Among the men rescued were: Robert Blanchard, William Miller, George Lafly, Joseph Murphy, and Michael Moss who later died.  When Blanchard was found he was being slowly roasted to death.  His partner, Miller, whose arms were broken, could render him no assistance.  These two men were not expected to live.


Five Men Badly Burned Rescued
One was slowly roasting to death when aid came
Evening Democrat, Warren, Pennsylvania
October 8, 1895

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Oct. 8. -- The rescuers have made very little headway in their efforts to reach the victims of the gas explosion in the Dorrance mine.  Firedamp has made its appearance and it has been necessary to do considerable brattice work, which proceeds very slowly.

There is a strong suspicion also that the explosion caused a heavy fall in the old workings, and that this will further retard the work of the rescuers.  It is now admitted by the mine officials that there is no hope of finding the engineer corps alive.  They all perished in the explosion, and if they were not killed outright they were suffocated by the firedamp.  The superintendent is of the opinion that they were killed by the force of the explosion and their bodies probably burned to a crisp.

All but eight miners and laborers have now been accounted for.  Superintendent Chase thinks, however, that the list of dead will not number more than seven or eight.  They may be put down as follows:
  • William L. Jones, mining engineer, aged 21, of Wilkes-Barre
  • William Cahill, mining engineer, aged 20, Wilkes-Barre
  • Llewellyn Owens, mining engineer, aged 24, Pittston
  • Daniel Davis, fire boss, aged 38
  • Three unknown men, probably Hungarian laborers
Five men, all badly burned, have been brought to the surface.  They are Robert Blanchard, aged 19; William Miller, aged 21; Michael Moss; George Lafly and Joseph Murphy.  The first two are members of the engineer corps.  Moss and Lafly are laborers and Murphy is a driver.  Miller and Blanchard are so badly burned that they cannot live.

Miller and Blanchard are resting easily, but little hope is entertained for their recovery.  Blanchard gave his version of the explosion to a reporter as he lay on a cot in the hospital.  He said that the engineer corps decided to make a survey of the old abandoned workings, known as the Baltimore section.  The party, which was under the charge of Fire boss Daniel Reese, who is an expert on mine gases, consisted of William Jones; William Cahill and Llewellyn Owens.  Blanchard and Miller were left behind to finish some work that had been started.

About 12 minutes after the party had left Miller and Blanchard the explosion occurred.  Both Miller and Blanchard were knocked down by its force.  Flying timbers also struck Miller, breaking both his arms.

After being knocked down Miller and Blanchard remembered nothing until they were revived at the hospital.  Blanchard thinks some of the engineers or probably the fire boss set fire to a body of gas in the old workings, and that all of the party must have been instantly killed.  When Blanchard was found he was being slowly roasted to death.  Miller, with his broken arms, could render him no assistance.


Eight Bodies Recovered
Evening Democrat, Warren, Pennsylvania
October 8, 1895

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Oct. 8. -- The rescuing party has reached the entombed miners only to find eight corpses.  Michael Moss, one of the injured miners, has died.


Walled in by Fire
North Adams Transcript, North Adams, MA
October 8, 1895

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Oct 8 -- A very serious accident occurred in the Dorrance colliery of the Lehigh Valley Coal company in this city late yesterday afternoon.

Four prominent mining engineers and 15 miners were shut in by a wall of fire.  The accident was one of the most distressing recorded in the coal region in many years.

At 8 o’clock five men, all badly burned, were brought to the surface.  They are: Robert Blanchard, William Miller, Michael Moss, George Lafly and Joseph Murphy.  The first two are members of the engineer corps.  Moss and Lafly are laborers and Murphy is a driver.  Miller and Blanchard are so badly burned that they cannot live.

At midnight the rescuers had made very little headway in their efforts to reach the scene of the explosion.  Firedamp made its appearance shortly after 8 o’clock and it was necessary to do considerable brattice work, which proceeded very slowly.

The engineer corps all perished in the explosion, and if they were not killed outright they were suffocated by the firedamp.

The dead bodies of the victims were recovered at 2:15 this morning.



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