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Berwind-White Company
Eureka Mine No. 37 Explosives Detonation

Windber, Somerset County, Pennsylvania
April 9, 1909
No. Killed - 7

USBM Final Investigation Report  (2.7 Mb)  PDF Format
Additional Berwind-White Coal Company Mine Disasters:

Overcharge of Dynamite is Put off in Slope of Berwind-White Company's Mine
Daily Courier, Connellsville, Pennsylvania
April 10, 1909

Johnstown, Pa., April 10. -- Seven men were killed and three slightly injured as the result of an overcharged blast to Mine No. 37 of the Berwind-White Company near Windber.  There were but 10 men in the mine at the time and they were fully 500 feet away from the point of the explosion.

The shock of the blast, which was made with nearly 150 sticks of dynamite, stunned them for an instant and before they could recover, the deadly fumes of blackdamp overcame seven of the party, who died a painless death.  The other three, all foreigners, were quickly rescued and rushed to the Windber Hospital.  They will be discharged today.

The dead:
  • Michael Gibson, aged 58
  • William Gibson, aged 28
  • Arthur Cusier, aged 28
  • Steve Memis, aged 28
  • Lut Gerhu, aged 25
  • Metro Katopliau, aged 24
  • Paul Myerask, aged 25
The company planned opening a new air shaft in the mine and as yesterday was Good Friday, there was a holiday.  No men were at work but Superintendent D. A. Thomas got a party of 10 men together to blast through the rock and debris in order that the stuff might be hauled out by the men who would go on this morning.

It was 6:45 that the men completed their blast and were making their way out of the mine when the explosive was fired.  The men were thought to have come a safe distance from the point of the explosion, but the rumble and roar of the giant powder sent volumes of smoke out of the slope opening before the men had reached the surface.

Superintendent Thomas immediately organized a rescue party and brought three foreigners to the surface before the mine had been entirely cleared.  These were the three men who were but slightly injured.  Then the work of getting the others out was resumed.  By three o'clock this morning the last of the ill-fated seven was brought to the surface but all were dead.

The explosion did little damage to the mine except at the point the blast was fired.

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