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Princeton Mining Company
King Mine Explosion

Princeton, Gibson County, Indiana
July 27, 1948
No. Killed - 13

Bureau of Mines Investigation Report  (1.2 Mb)  PDF Format
From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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13 Killed in Mine Blast
Southern Indiana Scene of Explosion in Closed Shaft
Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso Indiana
July 28, 1948

Princeton, Ind. -- An explosion at King's Mine here in which 13 miners were killed was caused by "accumulated gas" in a sealed-off shaft, state mine bureau officials said today.

After federal, state and company investigators groped through the mine, largest shaft in Indiana, seeking the cause of the explosion, Secretary Griffith Morris of the state board of mines announced that electrical machinery operated elsewhere in the pit might have sparked the explosion.

The blast apparently took place in the mine’s "east run, " a section that was sealed off last Saturday because the coal vein was exhausted.  The mine had reopened yesterday after being closed for repairs.

Investigators said the explosion ripped through the seal just as the 175 day shift workers were leaving the pit.  Most were unaware that there had been a disaster until they reached the surface.

Placide Mayeur, the mine superintendent, said "some kind of terrific pressure" apparently had built up in the sealed-off section.

It was the second major explosion at the mine within a year.

The men killed and injured apparently were just passing the sealed-off section.  The explosion caught them like the blast from a cannon barrel.  It seared them with flame and blew them against the wall of the tunnel they were walking through.

Fire broke out in the wake of the explosion.

Early today, the bodies of the victims were taken to various Gibson County funeral homes.  They had lain during the evening on the floor of the Princeton Armory which was converted into a temporary morgue.

Eleven of the dead were killed instantly.  Two others died after being taken to a hospital.

Casualty List:

The management of King’s Mine today listed the following casualties in yesterday’s explosion:

  • Joe Miller, 49, Princeton
  • Ray Williams, 52, Pit Foreman, Princeton
  • Kelly Ingle, 44, Buckskin
  • William De Coursey, 61, Princeton
  • Giles Hillis, 58, Princeton
  • Pat McKannon, 67, Francisco
  • Floyd Church, 31, Oakland City
  • John Shaw, 54, Princeton
  • Lee Bush, 51, Oakland City
  • Ebert Stapleton, 33, Francisco
  • Tom Warner, 34, Francisco
  • Elza Malone, 62, Princeton
  • Herman Moore, 31, Buckskin
  • Joe Russell, Princeton, condition critical
  • Ross Williams, Princeton, condition critical
  • George Cornelius, Princeton, condition fair

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