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O'Gara Mining Company
O'Gara Mine No. 9 Explosives Detonation

Harrisburg, Saline County, Illinois
October 23, 1911
No. Killed - 8

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Successful Rescue

Eight miners were killed, and eight others temporarily overcome by an explosion of powder in the O’Gara mine No. 9.  The dead and those made unconscious were removed from the mine by rescuers, three of whom were overcome by gas.  They were resuscitated at a hospital.  The explosion occurred as the shifts were changing and, but sixteen men were in the north entry, where the explosion occurred.  Three hundred and sixty men had reported for work, but all bad not gone into the workings.  It was not definitely known what caused the explosion, but that it was possible that the insulation on an electric cable had become loosened and that the exposed wire touched some spilled powder.  Source document PDF Format

(From Bureau of Mines Report, by H. I. Smith)

At 8:10 a.m., about 40 minutes after 16 men had gone in to work, the explosion occurred near the door between mines No. 4 and No. 9, breaking through into No. 4 and carrying irrespirable gases over the men at work.  The explosion was not violent in No. 9 mine but blew out stoppings and doors in one section of No. 4.

About 20 minutes after the explosion occurred rescue parties partly restored ventilation, rescued men in the affected area and recovered the bodies of the dead.  Gas accumulated after the door between the mines was left open by a man sent to drain water from the entry and was ignited by his open light.  The explosion was propagated by the ignition of 3 kegs of powder and by coal dust.

Eight are Killed in Illinois Mine
Daily Free Press, Carbondale, Illinois
October 24, 1911

Harrisburg, Ill., Oct. 24. -- Eight bodies have been taken from O'Gara Mine No. 9, in which terrific explosion trapped and killed the men.

Those taken out are:
  • Sam Barnaby
  • Frank Steckstor
  • Alf Bowen
  • George Edwards
  • Alf Kane
  • Chick Parks
  • George Austin
  • Ed Austin, his son
The explosion occurred at the north main entry and is supposed to have been caused from powder.  The air was so dense with gas and smoke that it was nearly impossible to get into the portion of the mine where the dead were.

Seven rescuers were brought out unconscious and in dangerous condition.  Among these was Dr. Charles A. Turner, a Harrisburg physician.

Another theory as to the cause of the explosion is that machine men in No. 9 mine bored into a room in mine No. 4, letting the gas enter.

Hundreds of men, women and children have been gathered at the entrance to the mine all day.

The explosion was of such force that the men in mines Nos. 3 and 4 felt the shock distinctly, and electric lights and dynamos there were destroyed.

The three mines are connected underground.  No. 9 is the largest of the O'Gara group of mines, which are owned in Chicago.

The position of the bodies, so far recovered, indicates death was from suffocation from after damp.  Each man had his face covered with shirts and other available clothing.

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