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Detroit Kanawha Coal Company
Detroit Mine Explosion

Ash Camp, Kanawha County, West Virginia
January 18, 1906
No. Killed - 18

USBM Final Investigation Report  (2.6 Mb)  PDF Format

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Eighteen Miners Killed Thursday
The Titusville Herald, Pennsylvania
January 19, 1906

Charleston, W. Va., Jan. 18 -- Eighteen men are believed to have been killed in a terrific explosion today in one of the mines of the Detroit and Kanawha Coal Company at Detroit, on Paint Creek, this county, twenty-five miles from here.  The men who were in the mine at the time of the explosion and who are believed to have perished are:
  • Isaac Pancake
  • Benjamin Snyder
  • Charles Snyder
  • Isaac Snyder
  • A. N. Sovine
  • James McCardle
  • Patrick McCardle
  • Stephen McCardle
  • G. P. Neal
  • Peter Bridgeman
  • Edward Bridgeman
  • Philip Bridgeman
  • Melvin Bridgeman
  • John Mikel
  • Ed Mikel
  • Claude Saunders
  • Patrick McLaughlin
  • John McLaughlin
Many on the Outside

The four Bridgemans were brothers, as were the three Snyders, the three McCardles, and the two Mikels.  The McLaughlins were father and son.  That more men were not in the mine at the time of the accident was due to the fact that almost all the day men, consisting of miners, loaders and drivers, were eating their dinners on the outside and thus escaped the fate of their comrades.  The explosion occurred at 12:30 o'clock.  Had it been either before or after the noon hour the death list would have been still more appalling, as hundreds of men would have been killed.

The force of the explosion was so great that the hills trembled.  Tons of wreckage and debris were hurled from the mouth of the mine, blocking the entrance and making the work of rescue difficult.  News of the awful disaster quickly spread to nearby mines and hundreds of men were soon at the scene, eager to join in the effort to rescue the entombed miners if alive or recover their bodies if dead.

The ventilating fan was blown out of position by the explosion and it was not until 4 o'clock this afternoon that it had been repaired and put back in its place.  As soon as it was set in motion, a fairly good current of air was sent circulating through the entries.

The first rescue party, consisting of fifteen men, entered the mine at 5:30 o'clock.  The work of replacing the fallen brattices and removing the debris which obstructed their progress was slow work.  The first body reached was that of G. P. Neal, which was discovered 150 yards from the entrance.

The mine superintendent says that the other men were working much farther back than Neal and he has no hope of reaching them until tomorrow morning.  Even though the men survived the explosion it is almost certain that they will fall victims to the deadly after-damp.

Mothers, wives, children and friends of the entombed miners crowd about the mouth of the pit and declare they will not leave until they know the fate of their loved ones.

The cause of the explosion is not yet fully determined, but it is believed that a blast ignited the dust which accumulates in the mines.

The Detroit and Kanawha Coal Company sold its holdings a few days ago to a syndicate consisting of the Mucklow Brothers of this city, W. D. Boyer of Scranton, Pa., and other Pennsylvania capitalists who purchased ten mines on Paint creek and incorporated the Paint Creek Collieries Company to operate them.  The transfer of the properties was made last Monday and a few days before the transfer the mine was examined by the mine inspector, who reported that it was in good condition.

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