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Barnes and Tucker Coal Company
Lancashire No. 18 Mine Explosion

Shanktown, Indiana County, Pennsylvania
January 26, 1924
No. Killed - 36

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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(From Bureau of Mines report by J. W. Paul)

About 3:00 p.m., when the explosion happened, there were 47 men in the mine; 36 were killed and 11 escaped unhurt.  The explosion originated at an aircourse face, where a "flameproof" mining machine had ignited gas.

The ventilation of advanced faces was makeshift and irregular, and the cover of the rheostat on the machine was loosely bolted and part of the gasket missing; arcing was evident.

The explosion, fed by dust, extended into a neighboring set of entries and up the slope with decreasing violence.  At the surface the fan housing was slightly sprung and a volume of smoke and dust blown out of the main slope.

Twelve men in 6th right felt the concussion and 11 escaped by a surface opening.  One man went to the main slope and died there.  All of the men in the gassy section beyond 6th right were killed where they were; the others died from afterdamp.

Rescue teams with apparatus searched the mine and helped to recover the bodies.  Operation of the mine was discontinued.

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

40 Men Killed in Second Explosion
The Lima News, Ohio
January 27, 1924

Shanktown, Pa. -- (Associated Press) -- Hope for the lives of forty miners, entombed late Saturday by an explosion in the Lancashire mine of the Barnes and Tucker Company, here was practically given up Saturday night when rescue workers reported that the wrecked mine was dense with "black damp" and the water was rising rapidly in the underground passageways.

The fan house of the mine was put out of commission.  The poison gas, the water and the lack of fresh air and a heavy fall of rock, impeded the progress of volunteer rescue workers who dug valiantly in an effort to reach the entombed men.

Word of the disaster spread rapidly and within a few hours the rescue manpower of the entire western Pennsylvania bituminous coal field was rushing to the aid of the stricken community.

Special trains from Pittsburgh, Johnstown and Altoona were carrying trained rescue crews of the United States Bureau of Mines, the Cambria Steel Company, and the Bethlehem Steel Company, to the scene.  It was hoped that these men, wise in their calling would be able to combat the poison gas and water and fight their way thru the fall of rock to the number six heading where the entombed miners were at work when the blast came.

The first inkling of an explosion to those on the surface was a slight shock.  A moment later a cloud of black smoke drifted from the main entry, and the big fan stopped its humming.  Superintendent Hamilton, in charge of the mine, knew had happened and he flashed the word to Starford, a town nearby.

Miners off duty soon reached the scene and the work of organizing volunteer rescue crews was begun.  The first rescue team had penetrated the wrecked passages only a few feet when they came upon six miners, staggering along the heading.  These men, suffering from gas, were taken to the surface and sent to the Dixonville hospital.

Hope Gives Way

Other rescuers were sent in, for it was soon discovered that the deadly gas was so thick a man could work only a short while.  Fighting their way thru the rising water, the rescuers made their way toward the sixth heading.  But at heading No. 4, they found a fall of rock, which, it was believed extended back to the sixth.  Halted by the fall, the miners used a hammer to signal on an air pipe to their entombed fellow workers.  But the signals were unanswered, and hopes gave way to despair.

On the surface there was the usual gathering of men, women and children, some related to the miners who had been trapped.  Stricken dumb by the disaster, they were unmindful of the intense cold, a heavy snow and a high wind.  The mercury stood at two degrees below zero.

After a careful check of the miners on the Lancashire payroll.  Superintendent Hamilton estimated that from 40 to 45 miners had been trapped.

While the cause of the explosion was not known, miners familiar with the workings expressed the belief that it was a dust explosion, as the Lancashire was known to be free from gas.

Shortly after 10 p.m., word came from the mine that the rescuers, digging thru the fall of rock, had located the body of a miner.  The man who had been caught in the cave-in and had been crushed.  The body was located just off the sixth heading and shortly after it was taken out the toiling miners broke thru the rock fall.

Their hopes that the remainder of the workings was clear was soon blasted when they came upon another cave-in just inside the heading.  Here they were delayed until timber and canvas was brought in to make brattices.

Listing of the Miners Killed In The Lancashire Explosion
  • John Stone, superintendent
  • Albert J. Stoker, foreman
  • Joe Parkins
  • Joseph Kelly
  • Chester Williams
  • Arthur Caparelli
  • John Yendral
  • Don Goodlon
  • Mike Mekitko
  • Gust Lesky
  • Louis Straffo
  • John Schulick
  • Ellsworth Sickenberger
  • Joe Faransha
  • John Chapela
  • Lamillo Boslet
  • Mike Milschak
  • Joe Melitia
  • Peter Krawasky
  • Mike Scramko
  • Blantino Buretti
  • John Buta
  • John Uhuran
  • Fran Knovak
  • Keith Urias
  • George Getsepp, Jr.
  • George Getsepp, Sr.
  • John Hudak
  • Max Caharsansky
  • Charles Crandell
  • John Crandell
  • Andy Shermansky
  • Joe Cight
  • Joe Lapaska
  • Walter Brown
  • Edward Kelly

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