October Mine Disaster Anniversaries in 2021
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|Did You Know?||October has produced 54 mine disasters with 5 or more fatalities; 39 successful rescues (longest - 8 days); and the death of 17 rescuers in 10 incidents.|
|Successful Mine Rescues||Rescuer Deaths||All October Mine Disasters|
|Successful Mine Rescues in October|
|1885||Plymouth No. 2 Mine Explosion, Plymouth, Pennsylvania — As soon as possible after the explosion, a rescuing party was organized and the injured men were brought out of the mine, all terribly burned but, with one exception, still living. The first man brought out by the relief party was Thomas Howard. He was cut in the back and terribly burned about the head and face. The others were brought up in the following order: Joseph Thomas; David Grimes; John Woods; Frank Spinnett; Edward T. Jones; John Lavinsky; Thomas Collins; Anthony Spinneta; John Zalinsky; Thomas McDermott; Frank Sanfraux; John Kerst; Sandy Lova; and John Cobley. All these were found lying near the foot of the shaft in the main gangway. None of them was able to stand up, and one or two were unconscious.|
|1895||Dorrance Mine Explosion, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania — 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.|
|1897||October 30, 1897 - Joseph Yomaski, one of the men entombed in the Von Storch Mine of the Delaware and Hudson Company, was rescued at 10 o'clock Saturday night. The bodies of the other men were afterwards found and brought to the surface. In an interview, the Pole explained that when his companions began to suffer their death agonies, he at once urged them to follow him, but they refused. He escaped to an old airway where he knew of a hand fan, over which he placed a box, and in that inserted his head. He then kept the fan going for ten hours and kept himself alive until rescued. See more.|
|Tallula Mine Explosion and Fire, Tallula, Illinois — Following the breakout of fire after an explosion in the Tallula coal mine, all the miners except for George Carr hastily left the mine. Carr was thought by some to be dead until there was a lull in the flames. That was when sheets soaked in water were lowered into the mine in which Carr wrapped himself. He was pulled to the surface badly burned, but saved from a horrible death. Source document.|
|1898||Midvale Mine Fire, Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania — The last bodies were recovered from the Midvale mine and soon after the fire was extinguished. The bravery of Tommy Hantz, a 15-year-old boy employed as a nipper, resulted in saving 20 lives. While making his way through the smoke to a place of safety, he remembered that 20 men were in a distant working, where they would probably be quite surrounded by smoke before they realized their danger. Turning back, he managed, with great effort, to reach and warn them. He was Just In time. Young Hantz, on the way, unhitched a pair of mules, and while trying to drive the frightened animals out was overcome. Fortunately, a miner chanced to stumble over his prostrate form and carried him out. Source document.|
|1901||Buttonwood Colliery Explosion, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania — Directly after the explosion occurred a number of brave rescuers, at the risk of their lives, entered the mine and brought out the bodies of the dead and nine injured miners. The injured men were taken to the hospital as fast as they were brought to the surface. With the exception of Inspector Daniel Davis, it was thought that all would recover.|
|Highland Boy Mine Cave-in, Bingham, Utah — Charles Nutting was rescued after being trapped for 61 hours by a cave-in at the Highland Boy Mine at Bingham, Utah. Very weak when found, Nutting was confined in a space so small, he was unable to stand up. Another miner, William Anderson, was also missing in the incident and there was little hope of finding him alive. Source document.|
|1905||Tunnel Ridge Mine Cave-in, Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania — Charles Rinea was rescued — 8 hours — following a cave-in at the Tunnel Ridge Mine at Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. His work companion, Joseph Skernolis, died in the accident. Source document.|
|1906||Unnamed Coal Mine Cave-in, Stockdale, Pennsylvania — Arthur Smith and Albert W. Simpson helped to rescue George Spencer from a mine cave-in, Stockdale, Pennsylvania, October 9, 1906. Spencer, 54, was caught by a fall of slate. There was room for only one person to work at his release. Smith, 28, driver, was first to go, and, while he was digging away the debris, another fall occurred but missed them by a narrow margin. Fatigue compelled Smith to stop, and Simpson took up the work and after 15 minutes’ labor, Spencer was extricated. Another fall seemed to be impending and did occur an hour later. Arthur Smith and Albert Simpson were bestowed the Carnegie Hero Award. Source document.|
|1910||Ernest No. 2 Mine Explosion, Ernest, Pennsylvania — Andy Kragear was overcome by the gas arising from the explosion. A rescue party using an oxygen helmet rescued and brought him to the surface about 8 hours after the explosion. Shortly afterward he gained consciousness and was able to tell where he boarded. He was the only man in the mine in the vicinity of the explosion that escaped.|
|1913||Seven Mexican miners, trapped for 6 days in the Vogel and Lawrence Lignite mine at Rockdale, Texas were found unconscious, and barely alive. The men were imprisoned by a cave-in following a cloud burst which flooded the mine. Lying near the men was their mule, still alive. Source document.|
|Trapped in an abandoned chamber of the Continental Mine operated by the Lehigh Valley Coal Company in Centralia, Pennsylvania, Thomas Toshesky was finally freed by rescuers after 8 days. He was in good condition and spirits, refusing a stretcher and making it out of the mine under his own power. Source document.|
|Stag Canon No. 2 Mine Explosion Nine miners, found unconscious near the bottom of the airshaft, were rescued by an apparatus crew after about 5 hours. They were revived by the use of pulmotors. At 6:15 p.m., the first miner to be rescued alive within 12 hours was taken from the main entry. He was found unconscious, two miles within the mine. Source document.|
|1914||Explosion in Mulga Mine, Mulga, Alabama - Sixteen men were killed and 12 were rescued by parties led by company officials. Source document.|
|Explosion at Patterson No. 2 Mine, Elizabeth, Pennsylvania - Following the explosion, the superintendent and the pump man were overcome by afterdamp. A rescue party in the charge of the mine foreman carried the unconscious men to fresh air. The superintendent soon recovered, but the pump man could not be revived. Breathing apparatus was not used. Source document.|
|Royalton North No. 1 Mine Explosion An accumulation of gas was ignited by open light. Doors to an old room were left open and gas accumulated. One man was rescued from the affected area 10 hours after the explosion had occurred.|
|1915||Continental Colliery Cave-in, Centralia, PA – On October 4, John Tomaschefski was rescued after 187 hours, imprisoned by a cave-in at the colliery which occurred on September 26. A 2-inch diamond drill hole was drilled 50 feet to provide food, water and dry clothing. It took 85 hours to drill this hole. Following this, the rescuers drove, by pick mining, a 4-foot by 4-foot passageway to reach and rescue the trapped miner. It required 4 days to accomplish this. Source document.|
|1922||After becoming lost in an abandoned coal mine for two days and a night at Pomeroy, Ohio, Jack Gobel was found by a searching party. Gobel became lost after a dynamite explosion jarred him enough to put out the light on his miner’s cap. The search party was formed after his wife notified mine officials. Source document.|
|1927||Mammoth Mine Fire, Mammoth, Utah — Twenty-five miners who were trapped for 4 hours on the 1300 foot level of the Mammoth Mine were rescued. None of the miners suffered serious effects from their imprisonment. Source document.|
|1930||West End Mine Cave-in, Mocanaqua, Pennsylvania — August Carucci, 30, was resting at home after being trapped in a cave-in for 14 hours in the mine of the West End Coal Company at Mocanaqua, Pennsylvania. Source document.|
|1931||Two miners who never gave up hope after 4 comrades were killed in an explosion in the Mocanaqua Mine of the West End Coal Company were rescued after 133 hours of entrapment. The survivors were John Thomashunis, age 40, and John Metz, age 22.|
|1933||Bootleg Anthracite Mine Cave-in, Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania — Michael Lukash, 45, was rescued after being trapped for 17 hours in a makeshift mine near Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. The walls collapsed as he was carrying out one of the few remaining sacks of coal. Source document.|
|1934||Bootleg Mine Cave-in, New Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — John Coyle, age 63, was rescued after 20 hours from a bootleg mine hole near New Philadelphia. Coyle owed his life-saving rescue to a group of volunteers that drove a 90-foot parallel shaft to reach the trapped miner. Physicians at the Pottsville Hospital reported that Coyle was suffering from severe shock and exposure. Source document.|
|1935||Independent Mine Cave-in, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania — Peter Baxter, 38, was released from his underground prison 22 hours after he and another miner were caught in a coal slide producing a cave-in. The incident occurred at the Independent mine owned by the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company. The doctor at the Ashland Hospital reported Baxter’s condition as good, saying he only appeared to be suffering from shock and exposure. The other miner, John Stankowski, was believed to be dead. Source document.|
|Unnamed Coal Mine Cave-in, Steubenville, Ohio — John Henry Wiggins helped to rescue Richard S. Riser from a mine cave-in, Steubenville, Ohio, October 14, 1935. While Riser, 51, was working in an entry five feet high in a mine, a rock 30 feet long, 10 feet wide, and two to three feet thick fell from the top, knocking him down close to a rail of a track and pinning his right arm and left foot. His left knee was pressed against his chest, causing him to breathe with great difficulty. Wiggins, 48, mine loader, ran to the rock and at a point 12 feet from Riser lay prone and crawled under it toward Riser through an opening 14 inches high. The rock rested mainly on refuse coal, and as Wiggins crawled, he pushed rock fragments from in front of him and stacked them to aid in preventing the rock from sinking lower and crushing him. Reaching Riser, he tugged at his left foot and forced off Riser's shoe but was unable to free his foot. Riser urged him to break his leg, if necessary. Wiggins crawled back to the opening, got a jack handle, again crawled to Riser, and tried to raise the rock by means of the handle but failed. He then took hold of Riser's ankle with both hands and pulled his foot free, crawled backward for four feet, and pulled Riser's leg to a straight position. He removed rock fragments from around Riser's right leg and then tried to pull Riser's arm from its wedged position. Failing to do so, he crawled back to the opening and clear of the rock. He had been under the rock for 20 minutes Later the rock was raised by means of jacks, and Riser was dragged from beneath it. His arm was paralyzed. Two other men who were caught under the fall were killed. John Wiggins was bestowed the Carnegie Hero Award for his bravery. Source document.|
|1938||Falling slate blocked the exit from a room where Dolar Johnson, 54, was preparing to blast in the Lilly Meade Mine in Owensboro, Kentucky. When his lamp became extinguished, he realized he was lost and he decided to sit and wait for rescue. He was safely brought to the surface 4 days later. Source document.|
|1941||Daniel Boone Mine Explosion, Daniel Boone, Kentucky — 34 rescued miners were brought to the surface by way of an air shaft within two hours after the explosion. Four other survivors were able to leave through the main entrance before it was filled by gas.|
|1954||Nearly freed from fallen timber and rock in an Anthracite mine in Branchdale, Pennsylvania, Carl Herman became trapped again when a second cave-in occurred. 35 friends worked for an undisclosed period to free Herman who managed to get out with only a broken leg. Source document.|
|1955||Abandoned Clay Mine Rescue, East Liverpool, Ohio — Three young men were rescued after being lost in an abandoned clay mine for 15 hours. A searching party of about 50 persons was formed after the trio failed to return home. They were found unharmed 5 hours after the search began. Those rescued included: Ed Unger, 16; Lemoyne Simms, 19; and James Simms, 23. Source document.|
|1958||Bishop No. 34 Mine Explosion An explosion occurred in this mine and resulted in the death of 22 miners. Thirty-seven others erected barricades and remained behind them until they were rescued.|
|Burton Mine Explosion, Craigsville, West Virginia — Four men who miraculously escaped death after being trapped underground were hospitalized. The first of four men rescued reached the surface on his own feet, leaning on the shoulders of his rescuers, some four hours after the blast. He was Artie Humphreys of Craigsville. Three others, two of them horribly burned, were brought out on stretchers.|
|1964||Grays Creek No. 11 Mine Fire, Whitwell, Tennessee — Six miners were rescued after an undisclosed period after being trapped by a fire burning in the Grays Creek No. 11 mine operated by the Grundy Mining Company. According to the news report, the miners were brought out "safe and sound." Source document.|
|1965||Wildcat Cave Entrapment, Hinckley, Ohio – A fifteen-year-old boy was rescued after being trapped for 24 hours. He was wedged in a crevice 10 inches wide and three feet high and was found tilted downward at a 45° angle. Consultation and assistance was provided by employees of the Ohio Division of Mines. Source document.|
|1965||Mars No. 2 Mine Fire, Wilsonburg, West Virginia — Workers inched their way deep inside the fire-ravaged Mars No. 2 mine tunnels for nearly 20 hours before coming upon Charles Lantz, 26, of Buckhannon. He was brought out alive but died of his injuries en route to a hospital.|
|1977||Segco No. 1 Mine Cave-in, Parrish, Alabama — Kenneth W. Ely rescued Ollis A. Bryant from a cave-in, Parrish, Alabama, October 11, 1977. When a cave-in occurred in a coal mine, Bryant, 46, was pinned beneath a huge slab of shale and sandstone that was propped up slightly at one side by reason of its resting on a low machine. Ely, 29, federal coal mine inspector, wriggled under the slab and, by moving debris and digging into the clay floor, created a crawl space to the machine, alongside which Bryant was trapped. After freeing Bryant from the debris around him, Ely drew him into the crawl space. Workers pulled Ely by the feet as he in turn pulled on Bryant. In that manner both men were drawn from beneath the slab. Source document.|
|1980||Two men, David Aubuchon and Guy Hayton, and the car they were driving were rescued after spending 4 days at the bottom of a vertical shaft of the University of Arizona experimental mine near Tucson. They had crashed their car through a barbed-wire fence protecting the shaft entrance. Following their rescue, the men were questioned by Pima County Sherriff’s detectives about the burglary of $700 worth of tools from the mine. Apparently no charges were filed. Source document.|
|1985||Abandoned Maxfield Mine Rescue, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah — Two brothers missing for 2½ days were found in an abandoned mine where they had been lost in darkness since their flashlight went out. Dennis Workman, 26, and his brother Scott Workman, 25, were found by teams led by a Sheriff’s deputy. The use of dogs helped pinpoint them. Source document.|
|1987||Rescuers worked for 58 hours to free "Baby Jessica" McClure from an eight-inch (20 cm) well casing 22 feet (6.7 m) below the ground. The story gained worldwide attention (leading to some criticism as a media circus), and later became the subject of a 1989 television movie Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure on ABC. As presented in the movie, a vital part of the rescue was the use of the then relatively new technology of waterjet cutting. See more.|
|Five miners trapped for more than a day were hauled 800 feet to safety in a bucket about the size of a garbage can. They became trapped when a cable suspending a 3-ton piece of machinery snapped, sending the equipment and debris plunging into the Diamond gold and silver mine at Leadville, Colorado. The mine was owned by the Leadville Corporation. Source document.|
|Rescuer Deaths in October|
|1896||No. 3 Shaft Explosion, South Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 4 killed in gas explosion, 2 fire bosses suffocated by afterdamp in attempting rescue.|
|1906||Pocahontas Mine Explosion, Pocahontas, Virginia — Edward Jones, the inside foreman, led the first rescue party, and when that party failed to return in a reasonable time a second rescue party under Supt. Leckie followed. Two of the Leckie party, John Odham and Ed Brown, were overcome by gas and died. Leckie barely escaped with his life. Then the third party was formed and continued the work. In the meantime, the first party had reached another entrance to the mine in safety, and sent word over the mountain announcing that fact.|
|1913||Dawson No. 2 Mine Explosion, Dawson, New Mexico Of the 284 men working in the mine, 14 men escaped from an unaffected area of the mine, and nine others, unconscious at the bottom of the shaft were later rescued by a crew wearing apparatus. Two helmet men, James Laird and William Poyser, were lost that night when they overtaxed the oxygen supply by overexertion and going in farther than instructed. The oxygen was supplied at a fixed rate and when they tried to remove the oxygen bottles to breathe from them, they were overcome by afterdamp. Source document.|
|1916||Jamison No. 7 Mine Explosion and Fire, Barrackville, West Virginia Lewis M. Jones, a mining engineer from the U. S. Bureau of Mines in Pittsbugh became asphyxiated in the Jamison No. 7 Mine fire at Barrackville, West Virginia. When Jones and seven others failed to return to the surface, additional rescuers were dispatched to bring them out. All of the initial party recovered except Jones. 9 other miners lost their lives in the disaster. Source document.
On November 13, 1917, Samuel T. McMahon and Bryce Warren lost their lives while wearing Fleuss oxygen breathing apparatus in a sealed fire area in the No. 7 mine of the Jamison Coal & Coke Company, Barrackville, West Virginia.
|Marvel No. 2 Mine Explosion, Marvel, Alabama Eighteen men entered the mine and all were killed in the explosion, except one pumper who was burned but escaped. A rescue worker without rescue apparatus was overcome and was killed by a fall from a ladder.|
|1930||Dalton Coal Company Mine Fire, Dalton, Ohio On October 8, 1930, Rush D. Hiller, an undertaker of Canton, Ohio, lost his life while wearing a ½-hour McCaa oxygen breathing apparatus on the property of the Dalton Coal Company, Dalton, Ohio.|
|1940||Wanamie Colliery Mine Fire, Wanamie, Pennsylvania On October 6, 1940, Reese Phillips and Gray Lacey lost their lives while wearing Gibbs oxygen breathing apparatus after entering a sealed fire area at the Wanamie Colliery of the Glen Alden Coal Co., Wanamie, Pennsylvania.|
|1956||Kimberly Auger Mine Asphyxiations, Ohio Two men died from asphyxiation and a third man was overcome in a rescue attempt at 7:15 a.m., Friday, October 12, 1956.|
|1970||Open-Pit Uranium Mine Electrocution, Texas A miner was electrocuted when he drove a portable drill rig with the mast up into a high voltage powerline. In an attempt to rescue the truck driver, another miner was also electrocuted.|
|2002||Storm Decline Exploration, Elko, Nevada Team trainer, Theodore Milligan and team member, Dale Spring were fatally injured when they collapsed from excessive heat while evaluating the conditions in an inactive gold mine. The pair's failure to have coolant cartridges installed in their breathing apparatus was identified as a principle contributing factor.|
|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 more than 400 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 80 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 . . .|