Mine Safety Training Repository
united states mine rescue association
Mine Disasters in the United States

Tank's Poetry

Father Time
See more disasters
from this year
Calendar Image
Mine Disaster Calendar

Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Co.
Otto Colliery Explosion

Pottsville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania
September 8, 1885
No. Killed - 6

1885 Pennsylvania Annual Report  PDF Format
Other Children Killed in Mine Accidents
List of the injured  PDF Format
See all Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Co. disasters

The Deadly Gas
An Unlooked for Explosion in a Pottsville Colliery Causes the Death of a Boy and Fatally Injures Five Men
Palo Alto Reporter, Emmetburg, Iowa
September 18, 1885

A gas explosion took place this morning in the Otto Colliery, operated by the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, one boy being killed and five men fatally injured.  Eleven others were also more or less severely burned.  About 450 men and boys are employed in the mine, both inside and outside.

In the new level upon which work has been prosecuted, the coal has been throwing off sulphur and this rose to the upper level, where a gang was at work.

Not long before the explosion, Patrick Kilrain and his son came out with naked lights, but noticed no gas.  A short time afterward several men came out and as soon as the door was opened there was a terrific explosion.  John Lynn was the name of the lad killed.

The fatally injured were:
  • John Lynn, age unknown
  • Thomas Lynn, 27, single; burned about the hands and face
  • Robert Lynn, 24; burned on breast, head, and arms
  • John Graham, 30, married, with wife and two children; burned about body
  • Alexander Frew, 30, married, with wife and two children; badly burned on head and body
  • John Smith, single, 24; burned in the face and on the body
The father of the Lynn boys was killed by a fall of coal in 1876.

The explosion created more than ordinary surprise, because this colliery was considered more than usually safe.  Many of the men engaged were employed on new levels, and were not taking out coal.  The force of the explosion was something fearful and resembled the report of an immense quantity of gunpowder.

See more about these products