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Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company
Henry Clay Colliery Explosion

Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
June 10, 1873
No. Killed - 10

1873 Pennsylvania Annual Report  PDF Format
1873 Anthracite Fatalities  (1.2 Mb)  PDF Format
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Rescuer Death

Soon after the explosion in the Henry Clay Colliery, John Hays, outside boss, heard the alarm of those who managed to escape, and went into the mine to rescue others.  After proceeding about five hundred yards he fell, face down, in a pool of water and drowned.

Successful Rescue

An accident occurred at the Henry Clay Colliery which was caused by the explosion of a keg of powder which communicated the fire to the stope in which were about two hundred miners.  122 of the miners were rescued.  Twenty were supposed to be still in the mine.  At the time of the accident the inside foreman was exploring some of the works, when he set fire to the gas, causing the explosion.  Source document PDF Format

Terrible Mine Disaster
Lebanon Daily News, Pennsylvania
June 13, 1873

Shamokin, Pa., June 10. -- This afternoon an explosion occurred in the Henry Clay colliery, operated by the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company, near this place.  The colliery had not been inspected for some time, but had always been considered safe.  Sixty-five men are employed there, and it has a capacity of mining eight thousand tons of coal per month.

Conrad Drumheiser, the inside boss, went into the old workings on the water level, when an explosion immediately followed, it is thought by the fire damp being fired, which communicated with the airways from the water level into the slope below where the men worked.  The men in this section of the coal region not being accustomed to blackdamp, thought it was blasting powder that had been set on fire.  They remained in the slope until overcome with the blackdamp, and starting to come up met a body of afterdamp and fell senseless, smothering.  The stronger of the men managed to get out giving the alarm, others followed, and when reaching the top of the slope fell, being overcome.

John Hays, outside boss, hearing the alarm, went to their rescue.  After proceeding about five hundred yards he fell, face downward, in a pool of water and drowned.  Enoch Magenski, was found drowned by his side.  Eight men were brought out dead.  There was no caving in of the mine, as at first reported, and the fault of the ventilation, but the accident resulted from old gas exploding in disused working.

Up to ten o'clock p.m. the dead miners have been taken out.  Many of the men came from the surrounding mines to render assistance.  Wives and children are rushing to the scene of the disaster, finding husbands and brothers dead or gasping for breath, while others were eagerly watching the arrival of friends on the slope wagons below.  There were fifty men in the slope at the time of the explosion.  Thirty-five miners are known to have escaped, and will recover.

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