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Mine Disasters in the United States


Worst Mine Disasters in the U. S.
Historical Data on Mine Disasters in the United States

The term "mine disaster" historically has been applied to mine accidents claiming five or more lives.  Mine disasters, in this sense, once were appallingly common.  For instance, the single year of 1907 saw 18 coal mine disasters, plus two more disasters in the metal and nonmetal mining industry.  Among the disasters in 1907 was history's worst — the Monongah coal mine explosion, which claimed 362 lives and impelled Congress to create the Bureau of Mines.

Mine accidents have declined dramatically in number and severity through decades of research, technology, and preventive programs.  Today, mine accidents resulting in five or more deaths are no longer common.  However, preventing recurrence of disasters like those of the past remains a top priority requiring constant vigilance by management, labor, and government.  See more about all mine disasters
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Statistical Summary

Documented mine disasters where 5 or more deaths occurred

Historic Period Coal Mine Disasters Metal and Nonmetal Mine Disasters Total Disasters
Through 1875 21 4 25
1876-1900 105 19 124
1901-1925 308 59 367
1926-1950 149 23 172
1951-1975 36 9 45
1976-2000 14 1 15
2001-present 4 0 4
Totals 637 115 752
Year with largest number of coal mine fatalities: 1907 (3,242)  Source External Link

Year with largest number of metal/nonmetal mine fatalities: 1917 (983)  Source External Link

Year with largest number of coal mine disasters: 1909 (20 disasters)

Year with largest number of metal/nonmetal mine disasters: 1911 (8 disasters)

Year with largest number of mine disasters overall: 1910
State with the most mine disasters: Pennsylvania (238)

County with the most mine disasters: Luzerne County, Pennsylvania (69)

The most recent accidents with 5 or more fatalities:
Coal: 04-05-2010 Upper Big Branch Explosion, Montcoal, WV  (29 deaths)
M/NM: 06-08-1979 Belle Isle Salt Explosion, Franklin, LA  (5 deaths)
Year with the most coal employees: 1923 (862,536)  Source External Link
Year with the most metal/nonmetal employees: 1979 (308,085)  Source External Link
The most rescuers killed in a single incident (59): Hanna No. 1 Mine following the mine explosion on March 28, 1908 in Hanna, Wyoming.  See more.

Between April 1905 and February 1909, disasters at the Zeigler Coal Company mine in Illinois were responsible for the deaths of 65 rescuers/firefighters.

Record Mine Entrapment (19 days): 4 miners rescued following the Spring Mountain No. 1 mine inundation in 1891.  See more.

The most mournful period on the calendar on this site is the 13 consecutive days from April 20th to May 2nd which reveals 17 mine disasters that killed 1,019 miners.

No mine disasters have occurred on Christmas Day and only 1 disaster, the Moweaqua Mine Explosion in Moweaqua, Illinois, happened on Christmas Eve.

Only one mine disaster has occurred on New Year’s Day:
Three coal mine disasters have occurred on New Year’s Eve:
The deadliest decade for mining was 1900-1909.  During that period there were 157 mine disasters which killed 3,932 miners.

There have been 27 Coal and 1 Metal/Nonmetal mine disasters where 100 or more miners were killed.

Five or more mine disasters have occurred in 45 counties in the United States.

The top 5 counties with accidents producing 5 or more deaths:
  1. Luzerne County, Pennsylvania - 69
  2. Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania - 43
  3. McDowell County, West Virginia - 30
  4. Jefferson County, Alabama - 23
  5. Pittsburg County, Oklahoma - 16
  6. Las Animas County, Colorado - 16
The No. 1 cause of disasters found on this site is Explosion (529).

Only one disaster has occurred on February 29: Davis No. 42 Mine Explosion.

Four mine disasters have occurred on Friday the 13th.

Worst of a Disaster Category: Additional Accident and Disaster Resources:
Mine Disaster Calendar
Our research has uncovered hundreds of ...
Accident Investigation Reports  —  Successful Rescues  —  Incidents of Rescuer Death


Listing of Selected Historic Underground Mine Disasters

Coal Mines

All accidents with five or more fatalities since 1970

The planet links below will open in a separate window

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
2010 04/05 Upper Big Branch
Massey Energy Co.
Montcoal, WV Explosion 29
2007 08/06
08/16
Crandall Canyon Mine
Murray Energy Corp.
Huntington, UT Collapse 6
3
2006 05/20 Darby Mine No. 1
Kentucky Darby LLC
Holmes Mill, KY Explosion 5
2006 01/02 Sago Mine
International Mines
Tallmansville, WV Explosion 12
2001 09/23 No. 5 Mine
Jim Walter Resources
Brookwood, AL Explosion 13
1992 12/07 No. 3 Mine
Southmountain Coal Co.
Norton, VA Explosion 8
1989 09/13 William Station No. 9
Pyro Mining Co.
Sullivan, KY Explosion 10
1986 02/06 Loveridge No. 22
Consolidation Coal Co.
Fairview, WV Suffocation 5
1984 12/19 Wilberg Mine
Emery Mining Corp.
Orangeville, UT Fire 27
1983 06/21 McClure No. 1 Mine
Clinchfield Coal Co.
McClure, VA Explosion 7
1982 01/20 No. 1 Mine
RFH Coal Co.
Craynor, KY Explosion 7
1981 12/08 No. 21 Mine
Grundy Mining Co.
Whitwell, TN Explosion 13
1981 12/07 No. 11 Mine
Adkins Coal Co.
Kite, KY Explosion 8
1981 04/15 Dutch Creek No. 1
Mid-Continent Resources
Redstone, CO Explosion 15
1980 11/07 Ferrell No. 17
Westmoreland Coal Co.
Uneeda, WV Explosion 5
1978 04/04 Moss No.3 Portal A
Clinchfield Coal Co.
Duty, VA Suffocation 5
1977 03/01 Porter Tunnel
Kocher Coal Co.
Tower City, PA Flood 9
1976 03/09
03/11
Scotia Mine
Blue Diamond Coal Co.
Oven Fork, KY Explosion 15
11
1972 12/16 Itmann No. 3 Mine
Itmann Coal Co.
Itmann, WV Explosion 5
1972 07/22 Blacksville No. 1
Consolidation Coal Co.
Blacksville, WV Fire 9
1970 12/30 No. 15 and 16 Mines
Finley Coal Co.
Hyden, KY Explosion 38


The five worst underground coal mine disasters, since 1940:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1951 12/21 Orient No. 2 West Frankfort, IL Explosion 119
1947 03/25 Centralia No. 5 Centralia, IL Explosion 111
1940 01/10 Pond Creek No. 1 Bartley, WV Explosion 91
1968 11/20 Consol No. 9 Farmington, WV Explosion 78
1940 03/16 Willow Grove No. 10 St. Clairsville, OH Explosion 72


The five worst underground coal mine disasters in U.S. history:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1907 12/06 Monongah Nos. 6 and 8 Monongah, WV Explosion 362
1913 10/22 Stag Cañon No. 2 Dawson, NM Explosion 263
1909 11/13 St. Paul No. 2 Cherry, IL Fire 259
1907 12/19 Darr Mine Jacobs Creek, PA Explosion 239
1900 05/01 Winter Quarters 1, 2 Scofield, UT Explosion 200


The five worst Anthracite coal mine disasters in U.S. history:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1869 09/06 Avondale Plymouth, PA Fire 110
1919 06/05 Baltimore Tunnel No. 2 Wilkes-Barre, PA Explosives 92
1911 04/07 Price-Pancoast Throop, PA Fire 73
1896 06/28 Twin Pittston, PA Roof Fall 58
1890 05/15 Jersey No. 8 Ashley, PA Cave-in 26


Top states and counties producing coal mine disasters

State Disasters
Pennsylvania 238
West Virginia 137
Kentucky 62
Illinois 46
Colorado 46
Alabama 43
County Disasters
Luzerne County, PA 69
Schuylkill County, PA 43
McDowell County, WV 30
Jefferson County, AL 23
Las Animas County, CO 16
Pittsburg County, OK 16

The U. S. Bureau of Mines was established on May 16, 1910.  During the three years leading up to its start (1907 to 1909), there were 50 coal mine disasters in which 5 or more miners were killed.  Total killed - 1,779


Year Disasters No. Killed Page Link
1907 18 918 View All
1908 12 356 View All
1909 20 505 View All

Metal and Nonmetal Mines

Accidents with five or more fatalities, since 1970:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1972 05/02 Sunshine Mine Kellogg, ID Fire 91
1971 04/12 Barnett Complex Rosiclair, IL H2S Poisoning 7
1979 06/08 Belle Isle Mine Franklin, LA Explosion 5


The five worst Metal and Nonmetal mine disasters, since 1940:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1972 05/02 Sunshine Mine Kellogg, ID Fire 91
1942 03/26 Sandts Eddy Quarry Allentown, PA Explosion 31
1968 03/05 Belle Isle Mine Franklin, LA Fire 21
1963 08/27 Cane Creek Mine Moab, UT Explosion 18
1943 01/05 Boyd Mine Ducktown, TN Explosion 9


The five worst Metal and Nonmetal mine disasters in U.S. history:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1917 06/08 Granite Mountain Shaft Butte, MT Fire 163
1972 05/02 Sunshine Mine Kellogg, ID Fire 91
1926 11/03 Barnes Hecker Mine Ishpeming, MI Inundation 51
1922 08/27 Argonaut Mine Jackson, CA Fire 47
1924 02/05 Milford Mine Crosby, MN Inundation 41

 

Mine Disasters Occurring During War Years

Mine Rescue Success Stories and Rescuer Deaths

References

Individual Bureau of Mines, MESA, and MSHA accident investigation reports.

Coal Mines:

Metal/Nonmetal Mines:



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