December Mine Disaster Anniversaries in 2021
|January February March April May June July August September October November December|
|Did You Know?||December has produced 71 mine disasters with 5 or more fatalities; 81 successful rescues (longest - 50 days); and the death of 17 rescuers in 7 incidents.|
|Successful Mine Rescues||Rescuer Deaths||All December Mine Disasters|
|Successful Mine Rescues in December|
|1869||December 18, 1869 - The East Sugar Loaf Colliery cave-in in Stockton, Pennsylvania claimed 10 lives on Dec. 18, 1869; only three bodies were ever recovered. The cave-in occurred at 5 a.m. when two houses were swallowed into the ground. A third home went into the subsidence and all but one person got out. It was a young girl who was later rescued from a rooftop. One outcome of the Stockton Mine cave-in was that houses were not built so close to mines after the incident. See more.|
|1884||McLean County Mine Cave-in, McLean County, Illinois — Peter Johnson, a miner employed in the shaft of the McLean County Coal Company, was rescued from a cave-in following a difficult and undisclosed period. Johnson was at work when the earth overhead gave way and fell upon him, knocking him down and burying him in earth and rock between two and three feet deep. Luckily, other persons were working nearby and at once set to work to extricate him, and he was reached just in time to save his life, for had he remained buried a few moments longer he would have been smothered. When they found him, a heavy rock lay on his head, and it took three men to lift it off, and it was all that they could do to lift it. Once Johnson was released and taken home, the examining physician found a large cut on the forehead as well as numerous cuts and bruises all over his body. The doctor said that he was very severely hurt, but did not think that his injuries would prove fatal. Source document|
|1885||Nanticoke No. 1 Mine Inundation, Nanticoke, Pennsylvania — Of the dead, many were fathers and sons of families throughout Nanticoke. One family lost three sons in the disaster, with the fourth being rescued "with difficulty," according to the Wilkes-Barre Record.
Twenty-nine men and boys were rescued through the air shaft by means of ropes, which were lowered and fastened about their bodies, and one at a time they were drawn to the surface. The disaster is now believed to have been caused by the caving in of a large swamp covering several acres, upon which culm was being dumped, the accumulating weight of which is supposed to have forced the bottom out. Source document
|1893||Crystal Ridge Mine Fire, Hazleton, Pennsylvania — Four miners who were imprisoned by the fire in the Crystal Ridge mine were found by the rescuing party and taken out safely through an adjoining mine. Source document|
|1894||Olyphant Mine Fire, Scranton, Pennsylvania — Fourteen miners were rescued after spending the entire night in the Olyphant mine of the Lackawanna Coal Company. The rescued miners included William Evans, foreman; Frank Benni, engineer; Patrick Brennan, Charles Williams, Frank McCable, and nine Hungarian laborers. Source document|
|1895||Cumnock Mine Explosion, Cumnock, North Carolina — After pumping fresh air into the shafts following the Cumnock mine explosion, several miners were prevailed upon to venture down and investigate. They found and brought out 24 men from shafts Nos. 2 and 3. Five or six of them were badly wounded and some of them would probably die; others were slightly wounded.|
|Rich Hill No. 15 Mine Explosion, Rich Hill, Missouri — Dick Tones, the last of the three men entombed in the No. 15 mine by an explosion, was found alive and rescued after he had been buried for thirty-one hours. He was half a mile from the mouth of the mine, and unconscious when brought to the surface. Source document|
|1896||Baltimore No. 2 Mine Explosion, Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania — A terrific explosion of gas occurred in Baltimore shaft No. 2 of the Delaware and Hudson Coal company. Over twenty miners were imprisoned, but at a late hour fourteen had been rescued alive following an undisclosed period. One of the rescuers who was first to discover the bodies says the men were huddled closely together. They had apparently abandoned all hope of rescue and were resolved to die together. The supposition is that the men, when they realized their danger, made their way to the highest point on the plane. The smoke found its way to them, however, and they were all but suffocated when found. Source document|
|1899||Carbon Hill No. 7 Mine Explosion, Carbonado, Washington — Two men were rescued more than 18 hours after the explosion. They are Peter Merp, a Frenchman, and Michael Kulsh, a Pole. Merp had been blindly groping around in the darkness most of the night on his hands and knees, seeking for some avenue of escape.|
|Unnamed Anthracite Mine Cave-in, Wadesville, Pennsylvania — While John Wagner and a party of miners were filling an air hole at Wadesville, the earth gave way and Wagner, falling into the hole, was buried alive. Leaping after Wagner, one of the miners shoveled him out of the earth just in time to save his life. Source document|
|1901||McAlester No. 1 Hoisting Disaster, Hartshorne, Oklahoma — Two miners were rescued from the McAlester No. 1 mine after an undisclosed period. The cage was ascending with eight men when it jumped its guidings about 100 feet from the bottom of the shaft. 6 of the 8 dropped to the shaft bottom to their death. The other two, who held on to the cage, had to be drawn up to the surface with ropes. Miraculously, these men were said to be only slightly injured.|
|1904||Woodside Coal Company Mine Fire, Springfield, Illinois — After being imprisoned for hours in the burning shaft of the Woodside Coal Company, 14 men were rescued. The top works of the mine were destroyed and the flames spread to the underground workings. Source document|
|1905||Horton Mine Fire, Horton, West Virginia — After an undisclosed period, two of the miners who were in the more remote sections of the mine were rescued. These men, who were overcome by smoke, were revived after being brought out.|
|Coxey Shaft Mine Rescue, Pittston, Pennsylvania — Joseph Davies, a miner, was found in the Coxey Shaft of the Lehigh Valley Coal Company almost starved to death having gone without food for eight days. When found, he was slightly demented and could not account for his wanderings. While lost he had nothing to eat and drank the sulfur water of the mine. Source document|
|1906||Edison Tunnel Cave-in, Bakersfield, California — Rescuers worked around the clock to release Lindsay B. Hicks from his tomb in the Edison Tunnel near Bakersfield, California. Trapped there with five other miners on December 7, Hicks’ freedom finally came after his 15 day entrapment. He was the only survivor. On December 12, speaking through a pipe, Hicks told rescuers that he had survived on 40 cents of chewing tobacco. Victory finally came for his rescuers on December 22nd at 11:25 p.m. Source document|
|1907||Monongah Mine Explosion, Monongah, West Virginia In his book, Davitt McAteer tells about Monongah survivor Peter Urban. Urban, a Polish immigrant, was found by rescuers sitting on the body of his injured brother, Stanislaus, trying to protect him.
"Peter and Stanislaus had run to escape the explosion, but Stanislaus fell and Peter stopped to try and help him up," McAteer writes.
"He was unable to move Stanislaus, and they remained there for five and a half hours. Underground, the rescuers attempted to remove Stanislaus, but just then, he expired. Stanislaus, a father of four, would be brought out days later."
On Oct. 9, 1926, almost 19 years later, Peter Urban was killed by a fall of coal in the same Monongah Mine. Source document
|1908||Lick Branch Mine Explosion, Switchback, West Virginia — At 11 o'clock p.m., 8 hours after the explosion, eighteen of the entombed men had been taken out of the colliery alive. They had been stifled by smoke and were not seriously injured enough to make their removal to a hospital necessary.|
|Unnamed Coal Mine Cave-in, Brockwayville, Pennsylvania — William P. Harris, 30, boss mine driver, assisted in an attempt to rescue Michele Rubino, 28, miner, and helped to rescue Francis P. De Santis, 28, miner, from a mine cave-in, Brockwayville, Pennsylvania, December 12, 1908. De Santis and two others were trying to rescue Rubino, who had been caught by a fall of rock, when a second fall occurred, catching DeSantis’s trouser leg and pinning him to the floor. While other falls impended, Harris crawled close enough to hand De Santis a knife, with which he freed himself. Rubino, along with his two companions, Guiseppe Petruccelli, and Vincenzo Stefanelli, when released, were found to be dead. Mr. De Santis survived. For their demonstrated bravery in the rescue operation, Messrs. Harris, Petruccelli (posthumously), and Stefanelli (posthumously) were bestowed the Carnegie Hero Award. Source document|
|1909||Mine A Explosion and Fire, Herrin, Illinois — James Guinney, Superintendent of the mine, and Robert Hueston, manager, headed the first relay of rescuers within five minutes of the explosion. Despite the blackdamp, they penetrated the workings. After sending to the surface three unconscious persons they found the first of the deceased miners. Afterdamp then forced them to retreat.|
|Bolen Darnell Mine Explosion, McAlester, Oklahoma — Superintendent John Brown was rescued alive after being trapped for twenty-eight hours in the Bolen Darnell Company mine. Brown risked his life attempting to save Angelo Ascinar, a shot firer who was entombed following an explosion in the mine. It was speculated that Brown would have died within another hour. Source document|
|Negaunee Iron Mine Cave-in, Negaunee, Michigan — Frank Cobdello, entombed for 7 days in the depths of the Negaunee mine, was rescued alive. He was found in a pocket behind the cave-in which had trapped him and Peter Mundi. The latter's dead body was beside Cobdello's barely conscious form. Two others were trapped in the same incident, Victor Mattila and Peter Makki. The body of Victor Mattila was recovered on the 23rd, terribly crushed. No further word was found on the location of Peter Makki. In 1902, ten miners were killed in a cave-in in this mine. Source document|
|Hammond Colliery Cave-in, Shenandoah, Pennsylvania — Buried to the neck in the rush of hundreds of tons of coal that swept into the gangway in the West Holmes vein at Hammond Colliery, Anthony Connell, 21 years old, was rescued alive and practically unhurt. He had been hemmed in twenty-four hours and at one point given up for dead. Miners acquainted with conditions said he could not survive the entombment. A rescuing force working in relays of eleven men removed over three hundred tons of coal and rock before reaching him. Source document|
|1910||Greeno Mine Explosion, Tacoma, Virginia — Four miners were either rescued or otherwise made their way to the surface after more than twelve hours following the explosion in the Greeno mine which killed eight. The four included John Swede, James Rosenburg, John Ritsky, and G. E. Lehman. Rosenburg was badly burned on his head, face and hands. The others were reported to be in good condition. Note: corrected name spellings are taken from the final accident investigation report.|
|1911||Five miners were found alive after 58 hours following an explosion in the Cross Mountain mine at Briceville, Tennessee. Discovery of Andrew Johnson was made when a dead miner was found in a sitting position in one of the interior chambers. Johnson and the other men were suffering from blackdamp. Source document. Source document 2|
|1912||Copper Mountain Avalanche, Cordova, Alaska Nine miners were killed when a snow slide on Copper Mountain carried away seven buildings of the Great Northern Development Company. Two miners, John McCarthy and a Japanese named Kee, were rescued after an undisclosed period. McCarthy was seriously injured about the body and Kee's legs were broken. Source document|
|East Lehigh Coal Colliery Cave-in, Tamaqua, Pennsylvania — After being imprisoned nearly — 40 hours — behind a fall of coal and rock, eight of the nine men entombed in the East Lehigh Coal Company colliery were rescued. The other man, Joseph Walters, was believed to have been killed. Source document|
|1913||Golden Cycle Mine Cave-in, Cripple Creek, Colorado — Fighting against tons of rock and dirt, hundreds of miners working in shifts of 25 minutes each, struggled to reach the remaining three men entombed in the Golden Cycle mine at Cripple Creek, Colorado. Grave fears for the safety of these men were expressed by rescuers that a second slide had occurred between them and the imprisoned men. Four men were entombed in the Golden Cycle mine by a cave-in the day before. One miner, Thomas Spindel, was rescued alive following an undisclosed period. A fifth miner, Frank Cabris, entombed in the adjoining Christmas mine was rescued after nine hours. Source document|
|1914||Diamond Colliery Hoist Rescue, Scranton, Pennsylvania — On December 9, 1914 about 6:20 a.m. the north cage failed in the north hoistway of the Tripp Shaft, Diamond Colliery of the D.L. & W.R.R. Coal Mining Department. During the act of lowering the third cage load of men from the surface to the Dunmore Seam, 13 men were dropped in the cage to the bottom of the shaft. The floor of wooden cage gave way dropping men to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of about 200 feet. After an undisclosed period, one man was rescued from the wrecked cage at the Clark seam, 15 feet below the point of failure, or 330 feet from the surface. John Bolinski, the man who escaped, had an instinctive fear of the mine cage and had made it a practice for several years to cling to the side bars every time he rode up or down. Aside from the severe shock Bolinski was uninjured, but on account of the severe shock he has not returned to work in the mines. This text taken from MSHA’s fatality database. Source document|
|1915||Richards Colliery Cave-in, Shamokin, Pennsylvania — After being entombed by a rush of coal at the Richards colliery for a period of 96 hours, Joseph Renock, a miner, was taken out alive. A force of 120 men had been working for four days at the risk of their lives in an effort to rescue the imprisoned man. The rescue work was exceedingly dangerous owing to the many hundreds of tons of loose rock and coal which separated the workers from the miner. The men encountered a large steel car in the gangway and it was necessary to chisel the car away before the rescue work could be continued. When released, Renock was able to talk, but was in such a weakened condition from exhaustion and lack of food that he was immediately rushed to a hospital. He would recover. Source document|
|A rock slide choked the main gangway in the Newcastle Mine of the Pacific Coast Coal Company near Seattle, Washington, trapping Thomas Zathias for nine hours. Rescuers expected to find his crushed body when they broke through the 60 feet of debris, but instead, they found him calmly sitting on his dinner bucket, awaiting deliverance. Source document|
|1916||Fidelity No. 9 Mine Explosion, Stone City, Kansas — Eleven miners were rescued from the Fidelity No. 9 mine after an undisclosed period. Overcome by the toxic gases, these men had to be resuscitated by pulmotor. Some of those rescued were badly burned.|
|Oliphant-Johnson No. 1 Mine Explosion, Bruceville, Indiana — 42 miners were rescued from behind two barricades 2¾ hours after an explosion in the Oliphant-Johnson No. 1 Mine at Bruceville, Indiana. There were 25 miners in one group and 17 in another. Two miners were killed in this incident. Source document|
|1917||Acme Mine Explosives Detonation, Fleming, Kentucky — Four men entered the mine on a Sunday to blast some holes; after the holes were loaded and lighted, they started to leave the mine, but when they were about 500 feet from the point of blasting, all the holes went off at about the same time. A rush of wind down the entry caught the men and extinguished their carbide lights.
Two men jumped into a room and the other two stayed on the entry. The rush of wind was followed by a gust of flame. The two men that stayed in the entry were badly burned but were able to make their way out of the mine, where they were found by a rescue party.
The rescue party found the other two men, both badly burned, in the room into which they had gone. Their lights had been put out by the explosion and they had become so badly confused that they were unable to find their way out. All four men had entered the mine without the consent of the mine officials.
|1918||Cleveland-Cliffs Mine Cave-in, Ishpeming, Michigan — Confined 63 hours in an area four feet square from a cave-in, three miners in the Cleveland-Cliffs mine were rescued alive. A fourth miner in their group died. Although the other three had existed without food or water, they were able to climb 400 feet to the shaft. They were in the best of health, apparently. As a last resort they had planned to feed themselves on cedar bark from a timber protruding into their tiny prison. Source document|
|1920||Sacramento Mine Ground Fall, Bisbee, Arizona — Falling ground at the Sacramento mine entombed James Toots, a miner, on the 1500 level, for what seemed like an eternity while comrades frantically dug to extricate him. Toots was imprisoned for about half an hour but was finally freed and was none the worse for the experience. Source document|
|Abandoned Bellaire Mine Rescue, Bellaire, Ohio — Ross Julian, 40, gave thanks for his life to the promptness of the helmet men in effecting his rescue from asphyxiation by black damp in an abandoned mine at Bellaire, Ohio. Julian said that if the rescuers had been a half-hour later, he would have succumbed to the deadly gases. The man’s lamp gave out while he was in the mine and, becoming confused, he walked away from the mouth of the mine. He wandered around in the darkness for several hours and was beginning to lose consciousness when mine inspectors reached him. Source document|
|1922||Fox Mine Cave-in, Marshall, Colorado — Kenneth Baldwin, 30, was rescued 18 hours after he became trapped in the Fox coal mine at Marshall, Colorado. He was brought out alive and uninjured. A companion miner in the same stope with Baldwin barely escaped the slide and rushed thru the mine calling to other miners. Fifty men started the work of rescue. An hour after the cave-in, Baldwin’s companions were so certain that he was dead that they called the Coroner. Note: The headline says 18 hours and the article says 9 hours. It is unknown which is correct. Source document|
|Vulcan Colliery Cave-in, Hazleton, Pennsylvania — After having been closed in for several hours at the Vulcan colliery, Michael Grando was rescued alive. He said he had sufficient mental torture to last the rest of his days. Source document|
|1923||Unnamed Clay Mine Cave-in, Brazil, Indiana — Reuben A. Brown, 50, mine driver, attempted to save Andrew J. Hamilton, 35, clay miner, from a mine cave-in, Brazil, Indiana, December 3, 1923. Hamilton was caught under a fall of shale in a cross cut in a clay mine. Brown, who was 14 feet from Hamilton, hurried to him but was unable to lift a large slab of shale that rested on his back. Three other miners were attracted, and as Brown and two of them attempted to lift the slab off Hamilton, a second fall occurred. Brown was struck and held fast against the wall, and one of the miners, J. Franklin Elson, was instantly killed. Four other miners then arrived, and although bits of shale continued to drop, they freed Brown and Hamilton. Hamilton sustained a broken arm and cuts and bruises. Brown was severely lacerated and bruised and was disabled five weeks. The following men were given the Carnegie Hero Award for their bravery: Reuben A. Brown; J. Herbert Batchelor; Amos J. Stamper; R. Delane Tabor; Walter Penman; Robert F. Buchholz; John E. Martin; and J. Franklin Elson (posthumously). Source document|
|1924||Thomaston Colliery Cave-in, Pottsville, Pennsylvania — Although he was rescued alive after being entombed under a fall of coal, Edward Haughney died half an hour after he had been released by fellow-miners. It was believed the reaction after the terrible strain caused Haughney’s death as much as any injuries. All precautions failed to save Haughney. Richard Pippsett, a miner entombed with Haughney, was rescued after an undisclosed period with slight injuries. Source document|
|1925||Overton No. 2 Mine Explosion, Acmar, Alabama — A Negro miner owed his escape to his mule. Back somewhere in the pit when the gas was worst and conditions appeared darkest for the entombed men, out through the slope opening flashed a big fat mule. Clinging to the mule's tail was the Negro who had become temporarily blinded by the blast and took this means of saving himself. He said he knew the mule would "get out if there was any getting."|
|Cardinal Mine Fire, Nederland, Colorado — 20 miners were rescued from behind a barricade sixteen hours after a fire in the Cardinal gold mine in Colorado. One miner was killed in the incident. Source document|
|1926||Locust Run Mine Cave-in, Centralia, Pennsylvania — Caught underneath a fall of top at the Locust Run mine, William Shemanski suffered fractures to both legs, a number of broken ribs and possible internal injuries. Following an undisclosed period, he was taken to the Fountain Springs Hospital where he was listed in very critical condition. Source document|
|Mine No. 2 Explosion, Francisco, Indiana — One man was killed and a score injured in an explosion which wrecked the shaft of the Francisco, Indiana Mine No. 2, shortly after fifty-two men had been lowered to work. The shaft was badly wrecked, but not completely blocked and rescue work was started at once. At 10 a.m. forty men had been brought to the surface and twenty of them were taken to hospitals. Many were walking home uninjured. Some were painfully burned. Two hours after the explosion, two dazed workers crawled to safety through a man-way, but they could tell but little of what had occurred. Source document|
|1927||Luke Fidler Colliery Cave-in, Shamokin, Pennsylvania — Twenty-one hours after they had been entombed in the Hickory Swamp slope of the Luke Fidler colliery, two men were rescued alive, without a scratch to show for their experience. The men, John Kowloski, and Wasil Rapunski became entombed when a shot of dynamite they had fired brought down tons of coal and earth, blocking the slope in which they were working. Mine officials began an investigation when wives of the two men told them the men did not return home after work. It was the first day of work for both men as miners in this mine. Source document|
|1929||Old Town Mine Explosion, McAlester, Oklahoma — Two miners found their exit blocked after the explosion. At this point, one of these men, Frank Gonzales, saw a third miner, Arnold Kissinger, collapse. Mr. Gonzales and the second miner, Joe Ponsella, next dragged Mr. Kissinger into a room where there wasn't much smoke and worked with him for about three hours. "After a while, said Gonzales, when no one came to help us, we believed we would die. I said my prayers but I was not scared." Rescue workers reached the three men five hours after the explosion.|
|East No. 5 Mine Explosion, Stotesbury, West Virginia — 12 miners were rescued from behind a barricade three hours after an explosion in the East No. 5 mine in West Virginia. Two miners were killed in the incident. Source document|
|Croft Mine Cave-in, Crosby, Minnesota — Rescuers were denied seeing the victim of this cave-in continue a normal life. For six days they toiled and successfully released Gus Snyder, 47, from his tomb. He was removed from the mine to the hospital, but due to his extensive internal injuries he died there. Source document|
|1931||Abandoned Mine Cave-in, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Clarence Bohman, 31, trapped by a fall of slate and dirt digging coal in an abandoned mine near his home was rescued by nearby residents after an undisclosed period. Source document|
|1932||Morgan Jones Mine Explosion, Madrid, New Mexico — Following the first impact of the explosion, some ten men near the outer edge of the area made a dash for the main passageway. Three of these, including Jimmie Taylor, 19, son of H. L. Taylor, assistant superintendent of the company's Madrid mines, were overcome. They were picked up and carried out safely by their comrades. Andrew Sampria, rushing out, picked up a prostrate form and carried it with him. When he had reached the area of clean air, he learned that it was his own son, Pete, he had rescued.|
|1933||Carson Hill Mine Fall of Person, San Andreas, California — Herman Cordes, Jr., had a bad scalp wound and he was bruised and shaken. Yet Herman was not complaining. He thought it could be worse. Cordes fell 100 feet in an ore stope at the Carson Hill Mine. Fellow workers were about to dump a carload of rock when they heard shouts at the bottom of the stope. They held back the ore and rescued Cordes. Six stitches were taken to close a cut on his head. Source document|
|1934||Wyandotte Dragline Rescue, Wyandotte, California — When the lights on a Wyandotte dragline dredger suddenly went out as he was about to go on his midnight work shift, Charles Anderson of Oroville fell into a 12-foot prospect hole in which there were six feet of water. His calls for help were heard by a fellow employee who threw a cable down the shaft to Anderson and then called to Anderson's son, nearby in an automobile, to throw the car head-lights over the hole. Wallace found a ladder, tied a rope on it and threw it down the shaft to Anderson who climbed out safely. Source document|
|1935||Wolf Run Mine Explosion, Amsterdam, Ohio — 20 miners were rescued from behind a barricade 1 to 2 hours after an explosion in the Wolf Run mine at Amsterdam, Ohio. Four miners were killed in the incident. Source document|
|1936||Pioche No. 3 Mine Cave-in, Pioche, Nevada — Six miners were rescued from a cave-in in the Pioche No. 3 mine after an undisclosed period. The first three were freed uninjured during the overnight hours and the last three were rescued shortly after noon. Only one the last three was injured having been buried to his chin in broken rock. One of his arms and 4 of his ribs were broken. Source document|
|Alden Coal Company Hoisting Rescue, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania — Ten workers in the Alden Coal Company colliery were rescued after an undisclosed period from a cage hanging precariously in a 1,200-foot vertical shaft. The cage was jammed against the walls of the shaft by ice. The miners were brought to the surface one at a time with a block and tackle arrangement. Source document|
|1937||Briar Hill Mine Rescue, Pinckneyville, Illinois — Lawrence Lee, a 28-year-old bookkeeper, was led to safety after being lost for 41 hours in the Briar Hill workings near Pinckneyville, Illinois. He had gone into the mine to explore some new workings and bring out some empty powder kegs. On his way out he miscounted the rooms he had passed and somehow got lost. His clothing ripped and his legs torn and bleeding, he wandered around in the dark until he ended up in the nearby Beaucoups No. 6 mine, whose fans were operating. Feeling the air current on his face, he following it in the dark until he reached an air shaft where he shouted for help and was rescued. Source document|
|1940||December 31, 1940 — 18 hours after a 70-foot roof fall entrapment in the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company’s Kent No. 2 Mine in McIntyre, PA, the following miners were rescued: Edgar Swan, Louis Canton, J. Fulmer, Leland Stutchell and Paul Cochran. Six months later, a mine explosion in the Kent No. 2 mine would take the lives of 7 miners. Source document|
|No. 4 Mine Explosion, Beckley, West Virginia — Soon after the explosion in the No. 4 mine, five men were brought out and taken to hospitals. The injured included Albert Wade, Harry Sexton, Joe Saunders, Roy Hill, and John Dalton. Physicians said Sexton may die but the others would probably recover.|
|1942||Consolidation Coal Mine No. 32 Cave-in, Shinnston, West Virginia — A slate fall at the number 32 mine of the Consolidation Coal Company trapped five miners for 11 hours. The rescue crew needed to dig thru 90 feet of slate and earth. The men, George Horsey, Henry Mullinaex, Louis Mazza, Walter Watson and Carl Debarr were not injured although exhausted by the ordeal. Faint tappings on the shaft walls encouraged the rescuers all day until a hole was drilled into the chamber where they were trapped and the trapped miners took turns talking to the rescue squads. Source document|
|1945||Belva No. 1 Mine Explosion, Fourmile, Kentucky — Approximately 3 hours after the explosion, nine miners barricaded themselves noting, "nine miners in here, 11 a.m. Thursday" on a pile of slate. More than 50 hours later, they were discovered and brought to the surface. The first out and the oldest of the group was Al Bennett. He died while awaiting rescue. The other eight miners were: Charles Lingar; McKinley Leath; William Branstutt; Ivan Philpot; Joe Hatfield; Huey Miller; Tom McQueen; and Bud Towns. Mr. McQueen died a few hours after the rescue. Mr. Towns died several months after he was rescued.|
|1946||Globe Copper Mine Earth Slide, Globe, Arizona — John York, 52, trapped by an earth slide in the copper mine at Globe, Arizona was rescued after a 24-hour entrapment. Hopes to rescue another miner trapped, John Orekar, age 44, diminished when the faint tapping sounds he was making ceased after more than 70 hours. Source document|
|1948||Kritzer Tungsten Mine Snow Storm, Dinkey Creek, California — A quick and full recovery was predicted for Claude Kritzer, whose left foot was amputated in an attempt to save his life. Kritzer, 34, with his brother, Martin, 38, were marooned in the snow-covered Sierras for nine days this month. The attending physician said the foot, which was gangrenous, was amputated above the ankle because there was no other choice. The two brothers were rescued from the mountains on December 21. They had planned to drive a tractor from their tungsten mine above Dinkey Creek but were caught in a snowstorm. Martin Kritzer, still in the hospital, was reported recovering from exposure and frostbite. Source document|
|1950||His life saved by the same huge beam that kept him prisoner for 54 hours, John Wolti was freed from his tomb by rescuers in the Big 4 coal mine at Selleck, Washington. Wolti was brought out of the mine with a crushed arm and suffering from shock and was expected to be hospitalized for a week to ten days. Source document|
|1951||One miner, Cecil Sanders, was rescued after 60 hours from the Orient No. 2 coal mine in West Frankfort, Illinois following an explosion which killed 119. At that time, this disaster was the nation's worst in the preceding 23 years. Source document|
|1952||Bootleg Anthracite Mine Cave-in, Pottsville, Pennsylvania — 50-year-old Sylvester Prosper was rescued after an undisclosed period after being trapped by a coal fall and buried up to the neck. It was some hours before anybody even knew there was anything wrong. One of the first rescuers to arrive was a priest, the Rev. John Shellum of a church in Pottsville. The priest crawled all the way to where Sylvester was trapped and gave him the last rites of the Roman Catholic church. Then the priest stripped off his robes, got a shovel, and went to work helping the others get the miner out. Hospital authorities said Sylvester had contusions and bruises, and was suffering from shock. Source document|
|1953||LNC Mines Cave-in, Coaldale, Pennsylvania — John Teno, 42, was caught and partly covered by a rush of material in the LNC mines in Coaldale. He was rescued after an undisclosed period by his buddies and was transferred to the Coaldale State Hospital. Source document|
|1955||Glen Burn Mine Cave-in, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania — Two miners were trapped for almost — eight hours — in the Glen Burn mine at Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania when rock and coal in an old breast "ran away." Both men were trapped behind the loose rock and coal because the slide prevented them from reaching the gangway. They both walked from the workings uninjured. Source document|
|1957||Mine No. 31 Explosion, Amonate, Virginia — Fourteen miners were trapped for six hours, but were rescued unharmed. They had protected themselves from poisonous fumes by stretching canvas over openings in the shaft. Woodrow Evans, 44, of Amonate, foreman of the 14-man group rescued at about 1 a.m., said his men remained calm during their wait and "some of them even ate their lunch." The 14 joined their families at the surface and went home to rest.|
|1961||Abandoned Mine Animal Rescue, Gilbert, West Virginia — Brownie, a 3-year-old rabbit hound was rescued after a 50-day entrapment in a caved-in mine shaft. A bulldozer late Monday uncovered a hole leading into the shaft into which the dog disappeared almost two months earlier. For 18 days after Brownie disappeared while on a hunting trip with his owner, he was thought dead. But whatever the dog chased into that narrow slit, probably a rabbit, seemed to have provided him with enough food to keep him going for a while. Brownie's whimpering and barking was heard by one of his owner’s numerous cousins. The dog’s owner had visited the break every day since the dog had been located, dropping food down the slit to his pet. Water was plentiful inside the shaft. Source document|
|1964||Unnamed Anthracite Coal Mine Cave-in, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania — Frank J. Di Andriole helped to rescue Peter A. Byczkowski from a mine cave-in. After another cave-in, the mine was cleared of all rescue workers, who by then had dug a tunnel six feet into the debris to find that Byczkowski was alive. In a rescue that took 2½ hours, Di Andriole and Clair S. Sigworth, a mine inspector, were able to remove the debris and carry Byczkowski to safety. Several hours later another cave-in occurred in the area, and it required six days to uncover the body of a man who had been buried with Byczkowski. Messrs. Di Andriole and Sigworth were awarded the Carnegie Hero Award for their bravery. Source document|
|1967||Abandoned Clay Mine Rescue, Wellsville, Ohio — After becoming lost in the abandoned clay mine for 30 hours, Mike Sanfrey, age 19, and Harry Reibold, age 18 were located and rescued by Columbiana County Sheriff’s deputies. The youths were found more than a mile from the mouth of the mine. Source document|
|1970||Loren Hinkle was rescued after his 24-hour entombment following a roof fall in the Leckie Coal Company mine near Anjean, West Virginia. Rescuers delivered water and orange juice through a two-inch emergency air vent while they dug him out. Killed in the accident were R. B. Crookshanks and Charles Pitzenbarger. Ironically, Hinkle previously escaped death in a mine fire and another roof collapse. Source document|
|1972||Itmann Coal Company, Itmann No. 3 Mine Explosion — Three miners were brought out by rescue crews about six hours after the explosion. They were identified as Larry Bailey, 23, of Brenton; Dallas Mullins, 32, of Pineville; and Jerry Billings. All three were said to be in critical condition.|
|1976||Trixie Mine Cave-in, Eureka, Utah — Two men were rescued from a collapsed Trixie Mine tunnel owned by the Kennecott Copper Corporation on New Year’s Eve after one was buried up to his neck in sand for several hours. It took a 22-man crew about 45 minutes to rescue Daryl Lance, 52, and Robert Kalletta, 28, from the 900-foot level of the 1,100-foot-deep lead and silver mine. The cave-in occurred at about noon but wasn’t discovered until 3 p.m. when the men were to get off work. Source document|
|1981||Stillhouse Run No. 1 Mine Roof Fall, Bergoo, West Virginia — On December 3, 1981, a roof fall occurred in the Stillhouse Run No. 1 Mine of the Elk River Sewell Coal Company that resulted in the deaths of Robert Bennett, Doyle Gillis, and Donald Arbogast. Rescuers found Donzil Cutlip, 27, pinned under the block about seven hours after the fall, but it took six more hours to free him (13 hours total). He was in serious condition after surgery to repair deep gashes in both arms. Larry Clevenger, 18, and Carl Hull, 24, were rescued earlier and were unhurt. Clevenger said the seven hours before rescuers found him was "the worst thing that ever happened to me." Source document|
|1987||Charles Simpson, Jr. was rescued 19 hours after a roof fall accident at the Slate Top Coal Company mine near Woodbine, Kentucky. Source document|
|1992||U. S. Gypsum Company Mine Cave-in, Ocotillo Wells, California — Leroy Witherspoon, 34, was rescued after being trapped for more than seven hours in the U. S. Gypsum Company Mine. He had been operating a mine train that became engulfed in 200 tons of gypsum ore. Conscious when rescued, Witherspoon suffered fractures in his left arm and right leg. Source document|
|1996||Mine Shaft Rescue, Morris County, New Jersey — Four rock climbers who were reported missing for more than a day were rescued from a Rockaway Township mine shaft in New Jersey. A police officer found their vehicle along the roadside near property owned by Mount Hope Rock Products. A search party was sent onto the property, and a police officer heard cries for help coming from 100 feet below the opening to the mine shaft. The men had climbed down over a protruding ledge, and could not climb back out. Rescuers dropped ropes down the shaft, and the climbers were able to assist in their own rescue. Source document|
|2011||Young Zinc Mine Fire, Knoxville, Tennessee — Three miners were rescued 2 hours after a fire broke out in the Young zinc mine about 25 miles from Knoxville. 54 miners were in the mine at the time the fire started on a drill rig. Two miners were treated for smoke inhalation. The 3 men were trapped by smoke and needed respirators to leave the mine. They were transported to a hospital for further evaluation. Source document|
|2017||Abandoned Mine Shaft Rescue, Golden, Colorado — A 15-year-old was pulled from an abandoned mine shaft near Golden Colorado after more than 3 hours. Crews with the West Metro Fire Rescue rushed to rescue the teenager who was trapped in the old mine shaft. The boy was climbing in the old mine shaft when his rope snapped and he fell about 60 feet down the deep hole. He was already 40 feet down when he fell, so rescuers had to bring him up from 100 feet below. He was rushed to St. Anthony’s Hospital for treatment of a broken leg.|
|2018||Rock House Powellton Mine Rescue, Clear Creek, West Virginia — Four people had gone missing on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. Their abandoned ATV was found near an opening into the mine. More than 48 hours later, Eddie Williams, 43, safely came out of the mine on his own. On Dec. 12th, after more than five days, Erica Treadway, Cody Beverly, and Kayla Williams were brought out safely by rescuers. The three were taken to the Charleston Area Medical Center to be checked out. The idled mine is owned by the Elk Run Coal Company, a subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources. The rescuers were from both Alpha and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety & Training. Source document|
|Rescuer Deaths in December|
|1907||Monongah Nos. 6 and 8 Mine Explosion, Monongah, West Virginia John Narey died in the mine rescue effort during the mine disaster at Monongah Mine, West Virginia Dec. 6, 1907. (from an article in the "Latrobe Bulletin," Latrobe, PA, Dec. 18, 1907.) In all, three men are said to have lost their lives in the rescue work at Monongah, apparently overcome with smoke or poisonous gases lingering in the mines because they had no proper equipment for entering exploding mines, or proper equipment to revive rescuers or miners who had succumbed to their smoke and poisonous gases.|
|1908||Unnamed Coal Mine Cave-in, Brockwayville, Pennsylvania — William P. Harris, 30, boss mine driver, assisted in an attempt to rescue Michele Rubino, 28, miner, and helped to rescue Francis P. De Santis, 28, miner, from a mine cave-in, Brockwayville, Pennsylvania, December 12, 1908. De Santis and two others were trying to rescue Rubino, who had been caught by a fall of rock, when a second fall occurred, catching DeSantis’s trouser leg and pinning him to the floor. While other falls impended, Harris crawled close enough to hand De Santis a knife, with which he freed himself. Rubino, along with his two companions, Guiseppe Petruccelli, and Vincenzo Stefanelli, when released, were found to be dead. Mr. De Santis survived. For their demonstrated bravery in the rescue operation, Messrs. Harris, Petruccelli (posthumously), and Stefanelli (posthumously) were bestowed the Carnegie Hero Award. Source document|
|1921||Satanic Mine Fire, Morrison, Colorado Six men were killed by firedamp in the Satanic coal mine of the Colorado Collieries Company, when they attempted to place a bulkhead on the 100-foot level of an abandoned shaft, used as an air course, to stop a fire. The only man brought to the surface, apparently still alive, was Eugene F. Bovie, Sr., of Morrison, father of a young miner, who was overcome when he attempted to rescue his son.|
|No. 1 Mine Explosion, Ellsworth, Pennsylvania On December 31, 1921, Albert Gilmore, a section foreman, lost his life in the No. 1 mine of the Ellsworth Collieries Company, Ellsworth, Pennsylvania, while wearing a Gibbs 2-hour oxygen breathing apparatus following a local mine explosion.|
|1922||Havaco Mine Explosion, Havaco, West Virginia — Two rescuers lost their lives following an explosion in the Havaco mine in McDowell County, West Virginia. They were asphyxiated by blackdamp caused by the leaky masks they were wearing. Two other miners were killed in the blast. Source document|
|1925||Cardinal Mine Fire, Nederland, Colorado — Charles Hjurguist died while he and three others were searching for two miners trapped in the Cardinal Gold Mine fire and cave-in on December 4 near Nederland, Colorado. One of the trapped men died in the fire and the other was removed in serious condition and hospitalized. Three other smoke-affected rescuers were also hospitalized in serious condition. Source document|
|1985||No. 2 Slope Afterdamp Asphyxiation, Carlstown, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania Rick Wolfgang helped his injured brother from the No. 2 Slope of the MS&W Coal Company, but perished when he returned to the 4-foot wide tunnel to try to save his father, Gene Wolfgang. Toxic gas flooded the area after the men set off a dynamite charge in the mine. Frank Benner also perished in the accident.|
|Mine Accident Research Documents|
|Successful Mine Rescues (MS Word format)
Listed in descending chronological order, this file contains hundreds of successful rescues in the United States. See more.
|Successful Mine Rescue Durations (MS Excel format)
This MS Excel file contains a chronological list of hundreds of successful rescues from 1846 to the present. Each rescue event listed contains a web or document link to additional information about the event.
|Incidents of Rescuer Death (MS Word format)
Listed in descending chronological order, this file contains more than 100 incidents of rescuer death in the United States. See more.
|Carnegie Hero Award Recipients (MS Excel format)
Inspired by the bravery that Daniel A. Lyle and Selwyn M. Taylor displayed at the Harwick Mine Disaster in 1904, Andrew Carnegie started the Carnegie Hero Fund . The file linked here includes awardees associated with mining along with additional resources which you may find interesting.
|Children Killed in Mine Accidents (MS Excel format)
This is a compilation of more than 100 incidents involving the death of children in mines. Source documentation links are provided. See more.
|Women in Mine Accidents (MS Excel format)
This is a compilation of more than 50 incidents involving the death of women in mines. Source documentation links are provided. See more.
|Loss of Life Among Wearers of Oxygen Breathing Apparatus
From 1911 to 1940, 26 men lost their lives while wearing oxygen breathing apparatus.
|And many, many more . . .|