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Atwater Coal Company
Atwater Slope Mine Fire

Atwater, Portage County, Ohio
July 3, 1872
No. Killed - 10

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Atwater Mine Disaster Marker
Location: 41° 1.15′ N, 81° 8.883′ W.
Marker is in Atwater, Ohio, in Portage County.  Marker is on Atwater Road (Ohio Route 183) south of Waterloo Road (U.S. 224), on the right when traveling south.  The marker is located near the entrance to Atwater Cemetery.  Marker is in this post office area: Atwater OH 44201
Photographed by Atwater Historical Society
Source: The Historical Marker Database  External Link

Historical Marker Inscription:
On July 3, 1872, 16 men and a 9-year old boy descended the 170 foot shaft in the Atwater Coal Company Mine located in Atwater Township south of Route 224 and East of Route 225.  The mine was situated on the property known as the S.G. Shaffer Farm.  By mid-day, 7 miners survived the brutal fire in the mine.  Richard Roberts, Robert Roberts, William Roberts, Thomas Maines, Joseph Otey, John Williams, John Howells, John Jones and a 9-year old George Hufford gave their lives to the first Mining Disaster in Ohio and the 19th mining disaster in the United States since 1839 with more than 5 fatalities.  In 1873, Ohio was second State to pass a law for the safety of Miners.

Ten Lives Lost at the Atwater, Ohio Mines
Cleveland Herald
July 13, 1872

The Atwater Coal Company of Cleveland has recently opened a new mine in Atwater Township, 2 miles from Lima on the Pittsburgh Railroad, to which station it has built a private railway for transportation of its coal.  The coal is reached by a "slope" which penetrates the "bank" for 160 feet, and which is protected from "caving" by wooden supports and roof, like the great majority of such mines.

Between one and two o'clock on the afternoon of the 3rd, while fourteen men and one mule were at work in the mine, the entrance to the slope was discovered to be on fire.  Four of the alarmed men in the mine rushed out through the slope, getting considerably burned in so doing, but all of them will recover.  The remainder of the men could not effect their escape, and were of course smothered in the slope.

A telegram was sent to Ravenna for assistance in extinguishing the flames, and the entire fire department of that place, accompanied by the Mayor, promptly responded the summons.  The President of the Company was on the way to Cleveland from the mines when the fire broke out, but was recalled by a telegram which reached him at Ravenna, he returned, and has been doing everything within the limits of possibility which duty and humanity demanded in the premises.

The people of the entire surrounding country, with sympathies keenly alive to the requirements of the occasion, flocked to the scene by scores and by hundreds, and also rendered timely and energetic assistance in such directions as it was needed.

As soon as the case would admit, efforts were resolutely made to reach the imprisoned victims but so much mischief had been done by the flames, which were not fully subdued until Thursday afternoon, that the progress was necessarily slow and discouraging, and it was not until Thursday noon that the first body was reached.  By Thursday night six more were recovered, afterwards the others were found.

Those known to be deceased:
  • Joseph Evans
  • John Wells
  • Thomas Mann
  • Joseph Outy
  • George Hulford
  • William Roberts
  • Richard Roberts
  • Robert Roberts

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