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W. A. Wickliffe Coal Company
Browder Mine Explosion

Browder, Kentucky
February 1, 1910
No. Killed - 34

USBM Final Investigation Report  (564 Kb)  PDF Format

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Accident Summary

The explosion occurred about noon on February 1, 1910, resulting in the death of 34 men and the serious injury of two boys.  The exact cause of the explosion is unknown, but evidence seems to point to an ignition of gas with the resulting local explosion spread by the flame coming in contact with black powder.  The greater violence of the explosion was confined to the Southeast section of the mine, and the fan, cage and shaft were uninjured, so it was possible to at once begin the work of rescuing the miners still alive and recovering the bodies of those killed.  All the bodies except one were recovered by 1 o'clock on the morning of the 2nd.  The missing body, that of the mine foreman was recovered about 4 p.m.

Mansfield, Ohio News
February 2, 1910

Drakesboro, Ky. -- Thirty-three miners are known to have been killed, two are missing and fifteen are injured as a result of the explosion in the Browder coal mine, near here, yesterday.  There were one hundred men in the two wings of the mine at the time of the explosion, but the fifty men in the west wing were uninjured and escaped.

Those in the east wing felt the full force of the explosion.  One or two of the injured are in a critical condition.  Of the dead about half were whites, all Americans, and the remainder negroes.  Peter Kelly, mine foreman, is among the missing.

As a result of the disaster all of the mines in the vicinity closed down today, the men offering their services in rescue work.

The explosion is believed to have been caused by a miner's lamp igniting gas in an unused room.  The force of the explosion was apparently sufficient to cause instant death to all the men in the eastern wing where it occurred.  Cars and heavy timbers were blown about like kindling wood.

Within a few minutes after the first news of the explosion the inhabitants of the little mining town were crowding about the shaft.  Women and children crazed with grief, pleaded with those in charge of the mine for news of the of the entombed men.

They were spared one of the horrors of other recent disasters, namely long suspense.  Within a few minutes after the explosion the fans had sucked the shaft almost clear of deadly gases and rescue parties were able to descend and begin to dig through the wreckage.  No fire followed the explosion and the ventilating apparatus was fortunately unharmed by the shock.

The rescue parties found a scene of destruction that left no doubt as to the fate of the men.  First bodies recovered were in fairly good condition, the men having been smothered to death and not mangled by the explosion but as the party pushed on they found bodies so mutilated that they were unrecognizable.  Cars and debris of all description had been tossed about by the explosion.  The rescue party worked without interruption all night, while women, children and men formed to the darkness a shadowy ring which never left the mouth of the shaft.

List of the Miners Killed:
Alex Ray Bennett
William Reno
Peter Thomas Kelley
Matthew Lloyd
E. Mack English
James Arthur Richardson
Ray Martin
Hilas Sprowl
Columbus M. Sprowl
Alexander Sweat
Alex Hughes
Ezro Mayfield
Obie Jones
Raymond Browning
William Jones
John Duffy
George Duffy
Terry Cash
Bud H. Smith
William Berry
Richard Henry Mason
Estill E. Cornette
H. Eugene Cornette
Benjamin Leslie
Warner Johnson
Alexander Williams
Estill Browning
James Mat Allen
Will M. Whitaker
James L. Williams
J. Riley Thomas
James Dudley Empson
Levy Duvall

List of Injured:
Walter Williams
Sam Bard
Edgar Mitchell
Charles Williams
John O. Steel
Charles Whitney
James Whitney
Will Richardson
Columbus Jones
Sam Oates
Harris Borah
M. Edwards
Floyd Avery
Herschell Sheffield
Joe James
George Estes
Burgess Mason
Jesse Jernigan
James Lemon

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