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Mine Disasters in the United States

Big Muddy Coal and Iron Company
Big Muddy Explosives Disaster

Herrin, Illinois
May 11, 1904
No. Killed - 10

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Powder Explosion in Herrin, Illinois
Decatur Herald, Decatur, Illinois
May 13, 1904

Carbondale, Ill., May 11--In an explosion today at the shaft of the Big Muddy Coal and Iron company, in Herrin, five men were killed outright, five seriously injured and twenty others slightly injured.

The dead:
  • John Miller
  • Dick Reins
  • Fritz Seiberg
  • Evan Williams
  • Thomas Green
Fatally injured:
  • John Swofferd
  • Frank Lazonia
  • Angelo Scaronia
The disaster was one of the most serious in the coal district in this section.  Six kegs of powder had been placed in the mine during the time intervening between night and day shifts, for distribution in the mornings.  John Miller, a driver, had charge of the distribution.

Ten minutes after Miller was supposed to have completed his task, the electric current which runs the machines was turned on and the explosion followed.  It is supposed that through some mistake the current was switched on before Miller had distributed the powder.  On reaching the passageway, rescuers met a frightful sight.  The body of Miller was literally torn to pieces.

Evan Williams was found a short distance from Miller and four whose injuries may prove fatal, were found in the same vicinity.  The three others killed were farther from the pit and not so badly disfigured.  The injured men were found in all parts of the mine.  The dead and injured were taken to the top, the dead to the morgue and the injured to their homes.

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