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Yukon-Pocahontas Coal Company
Yukon No. 2 Mine Explosion

Yukon, McDowell County, West Virginia
March 28, 1924
No. Killed - 26

News Clippings  (2.8 Mb)  PDF Format

See also: Yukon Mine Explosion, Mar. 26, 1930
Yukon No. 1 Mine Explosion, Dec. 15, 1917
Yukon-Pocahontas No. 1 Mine Explosion, May 22, 1928

Successful Rescue

After an undisclosed period following the explosion, six of the thirty-two men in No. 2 mine escaped death, and were rescued by fellow workmen from the No. 1 mine.

(U. S. Bureau of Mines letters and Information Circular 6802 (15, P. 19))

The No. 2 mine, connected to the No. 1 workings, was in an isolated location.  Three miners taking a short cut to their working places through unventilated abandoned workings set off gas with their open lights at 7:23 a.m.

Dust was stirred up, and a violent explosion spread over much of the mine.  The mine was very dry and dusty although an attempt was made to water haulageways once or twice a day.

Of the 32 men in the mine, 26 were killed and 4 injured, and 2 escaped uninjured.  Rescue and recovery crews, with some apparatus, removed the bodies and restored ventilation.

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

Bodies of All 26 Mine Blast Victims Found
Charleston Daily Mail, West Virginia
March 29, 1924

Welch, March 29. -- All bodies of the 26 men killed in the explosion at the Yukon mines were recovered last night.

The identified dead are:
  • Joe Katonia
  • Steve Matthews
  • Tony Batnick
  • John Leska
  • Tony Zusko
  • George Jackson
  • Charles Rose
  • Mike Marinola
  • Lon Gilbert
  • George Catthell
  • George Melton
  • Henry Christian
  • Harry Gilbert
  • Harrison Hicks
  • R. F. Worley
  • George Barnsky
  • Frank Munsey
  • Russell Edmonds
  • George Ball
  • Leonard Ferrell
  • L. E. Jones
  • George Payne
  • Jean Leslie
The following men, in the mine at the time of the explosion, were either able to make their own way out or were rescued:
  • J. F. Bowles, mine foreman
  • A. D. Henley, fire boss
  • Burns Keaton
  • W. L. Hart
  • John Thompson
  • Dave Marr
  • Oliver Stevens
  • Leonard Leslie
  • Andy Sago
  • John Martini
  • Doc Wright
  • Steve Bishop

Story of Survivor
Charleston Daily Mail, West Virginia
March 29, 1924

Bluefield, March 29. -- Twenty-six lives were snuffed out in an explosion which occurred at 7:27 a.m. yesterday in the No. 2 mine of the Yukon-Pocahontas Coal Company, at Yukon, McDowell county, according to a statement by J. A. Demchock, ventilation engineer of the coal company, who arrived here from the ill-fated mine.

Demchock was in No. 1 mine at the time of the explosion.  Six of the thirty-two men in No. 2 mine escaped death, and were rescued by fellow workmen from No. 1 mine.  All men in No. 2 mine went in the first and second trips.  Twenty-four miners including the motor crew had composed the first trip and eight on the second trip.  There was only a difference of about fifteen minutes between the first and second trip were either at work or nearing their destination at the time of the explosion, according to Demchock.

Head Lamp Cause Blast

The second trip had wrecked about 4,000 feet from the main entrance of No. 2 mine.  All but three members of this trip had remained to help place the motor on the rails.  It is believed by those who were in the mines at the time of the explosion or later, as members of the rescue crews, that the explosion was caused by the three men of the second trip who had left the derailed motor and started to walk to their work.

Officials and mine inspectors, according to Demchock, seem to be satisfied the explosion was caused by head lamps worn by the three miners who had evidently decided to take a short cut through some old workings and had encountered a pocket of gas.  The bodies of the three miners were found some several hundred feet back in the old workings, two of them being together, and the third about 200 feet away.

Mines Inspected Thursday

The mines had been inspected Thursday night and there was no presence of gas at that time, inspectors reports showed.

Of the 125 men reported to have been in No. 1 mine, but few really knew what had taken place in No. 2.  Several near the entry leading from No. 1 to No. 2 were knocked from their feet by the force of the explosion, and several received injuries.  The work of pillar robbing was said to have been quite active recently, and when many of the miners in No. 1 mine heard the report they thought it was caused by this work.  Others took it to be a heavy fall of slate.

A foreigner, one of the few men to escape death in No. 2 mine, minus his coat and hat, bleeding about the head and face, ran through the entry between the two mines.  He was unable to tell what had taken place.  He is said to have been picked up and carried for a considerable distance by the explosion.

The last of the bodies was removed from the mines early tonight, according to a report from Haeger, the nearest town to Yukon which could be reached by telephone.  Some of the bodies were said to have been badly burned and mutilated.  Inadequate means of communication made in impossible to obtain the names of those killed.  Quite a few of the men killed were reported to have been foreigners and most of the Americans were natives of that section and the neighboring Virginia counties.  In many sections of the Pocahontas coal field the explosion was not learned of until late this evening.

There was no information available tonight as to when an inquest would be held.

The bodies have not as yet been turned over to relatives.

A similar explosion occurred in the mine in 1917, in which eighteen persons were killed.

The mine was opened in 1907 and was virtually owned by the late W. F. Harman, interest, of which C. Henry Harman is the executive head.

T. J. Dawson, superintendent, who has only been with the Yukon Company, for the past three weeks, was near the main entry on No. 1 at the time of the explosion.  Dust and smoke, which poured from the entry gave evidence of an explosion and he hurriedly entered the mine.  His presence of mind was said to have been responsible for the rescue of all the men in No. 1 mine without one fatally.

Less than an hour after the explosion, rescue teams from nearby mining camps were on the scene and at least two teams had been put in the mine.  The mine rescue car which was at Nemours, 35 miles from the scene of the explosion, was ordered to Yukon some hours later.

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