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Carbon Hill Coal Company
Carbon Hill No. 7 Mine Explosion

Carbonado, Pierce County, Washington
December 9, 1899
No. Killed - 31

Ninth Biennial Report of the Inspector of Coal Mines State of Washington  (404 Kb)  PDF Format
See also: Carbon Hill No. 1 Mine Explosion, January 21, 1911
Carbon Hill Explosives Detonation, January 16, 1912
Carbon Hill Mine Explosion, July 16, 1912

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Successful Rescue

Two men were rescued more than 18 hours after the explosion.  They were Peter Merp, a Frenchman, and Michael Kulsh, a Pole.  Merp had been blindly groping around in the darkness most of the night on his hands and knees, seeking for some avenue of escape.

Gas Causes a Disaster in a Shaft at Carbonado
The Cranbury Press, New Jersey
December 15, 1899

Carbonado, Wash. (Special) -- The greatest mining accident in the history of coal mining of this State occurred when an explosion took place in Shaft No. 7, of the Carbon Hill coal mines, forty miles east of Tacoma.  Thirty-two miners lost their lives.  The total number of men in the unfortunate shaft was seventy-six, of whom forty-four are alive, having escaped or been rescued.

The victims were among the best class of miners employed in this State.  Most of the men were married and lived with their families in snug cottages at Carbonado, which stands on a hill 900 feet above the entrance to the mine workings.

The cause of the disaster is unknown, but it is supposed the miners working between the 300 and 600 foot levels broke into the old mine workings, which were filled with gas.  The explosion followed as soon as this outpouring gas came in contact with the first miner's lamp.  The theory of Superintendent Davies is that a small pocket of gas was opened, became ignited, and caused the terrific explosion of dust which resulted in all the damage and loss of life.

The explosion occurred just as the men were preparing to leave the shaft at noon.  Several hours elapsed before efforts could be made to enter the mine.  The surviving relatives at once flocked around the shaft, creating a terrible scene with their loud lamentations.

Two men were rescued at 5 o'clock the next morning, after being entombed in the mine all night.  They were Peter Merp, a Frenchman, and Michael Kulsh, a Pole.  After Kulsh had recovered from the effects of the suffocating black damp, he said:
"I was working on the fourth cross cut when the explosion came.  After that I went to sleep, and somebody came and woke me up and took me out of there."
That was the total measure of his period of consciousness.  He had lain in the cool depth over eighteen hours, and had not the least conception of the passage of time.

On the other hand, Merp the Frenchman, had been blindly groping around in the darkness for the most part of the night on his hands and knees, seeking for some avenue of escape.

Governor Rogers will conduct a searching examination as to the cause of the explosion.  He telegraphed State Mine Inspector Owens at Spokane to attend the inquest and examine witnesses.  The question of insufficient ventilation of the mine in contravention of State law will be made the subject of a thorough inquiry.

The mines are owned by the Carbon Hill Coal Company.  They gave work to four hundred men, and had an output of three hundred thousand tons annually.  They are situated forty miles from Tacoma on the Cascade Division of the Northern Pacific.  The mines are in a deep ravine through which the Carbon River flows.  It is a glacial river.  The mines are supplied with every appliance for safety.  They are largely tunneled, and the tunnels are so big that locomotives run into them.

Revised list of fatalities:
  • Leonard Johnson
  • Henry Soini
  • Matt Rehlea
  • Victor Ruhlnaki
  • Michael Kichino
  • John Mellon
  • Andrey Gecey
  • John H. Jones
  • David X. Thomas
  • Howell Meredith, Sr.
  • Watkin Jones
  • Evan M. Lewis
  • Daniel E. Davis
  • Lee S. Jones
  • William Wilson
  • Joseph Lee
  • Richard Dare
  • Ben Zeinler, Jr.
  • August Halnayt
  • Emil Halnayt
  • Paul Curtiss
  • Adam Pavoll
  • John Folia
  • Steven Kraunoga
  • Ben Zeidler, Sr.
  • Matt Nuland
  • Jacob Lande

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