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Mine Disasters in the United States



Lehigh Valley Coal Company
Oak Wood Shaft Hoisting Disaster

Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
September 2, 1885
No. Killed - 4

PA District 2 Fatalities  PDF Format
New York Times News Article  PDF Format


On the morning of September 2, 1885, while the men were being lowered to work in this shaft, a shocking accident happened, which caused the death of John J. Martin, a miner; James Kearney, a laborer; Thomas Jenkins and John Peterson, miners.

These men, with six others, were on the cage descending the shaft, when, upon reaching the bottom, a large piece of rock loosening from the side of the shaft, several hundred feet above, fell upon the cage, crushing through its roof upon them, killing the first three named instantly, and the other was injured so that he died in a few hours after.

This shaft is seven hundred and thirty feet deep, and the rock became loose on the west side, about midway down, and right below a small vein of coal.  In July, the shaft had been very carefully examined, and all loose material found was pulled down or secured by timber.

This rock was penetrated by an unseen slip, and a piece weighing about three hundred pounds, disintegrating from the face of this slip, did the fatal work upon these four unfortunate men, who were on the cage at that time.  Source document.



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