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Ben Franklin Coal Company
Panama Mine Explosion

Moundsville, Marshall County, West Virginia
July 11, 1912
No. Killed - 8

USBM Final Investigation Report  (3.0 Mb)  PDF Format

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Successful Rescue

An explosion occurred in this mine causing the death of eight men.  There were 10 men in the mine at the time of the explosion.  Seven of these men died almost instantly from burns and suffocation; two others, badly burned, made their way to the shaft bottom and were hoisted to the surface.  One of these two men died on July 13.  The tenth man was found by the rescue party and brought out alive about 24 hours after the explosion.  It was the opinion of investigators that the explosion occurred when an accumulation of gas was ignited by an open light.

(From Bureau of Mines Report, by G. H. Deike and J. T. Ryan)

The mine had been shut down and work on a limited tonnage had been started July 10.  A fireboss and 9 men went down to load coal.  Some men went to get their tools from their former working places, taking the safety lamp.  The fireboss had not examined that section, and an open door short-circuited the air in two entries.

Gas was ignited by the open lights, resulting in the death of eight men from burns and suffocation.  Seven died almost instantly; 2 others, badly burned, made their way to the shaft and were hoisted to the surface; 1 died the next day.  The 10th man was found by a rescue party and brought out alive 24 hours after the explosion.

Eight Perish in Mine
Washington Post, District of Columbia
July 12, 1912

Moundsville, W. Va., July 11 -- A gas explosion at 9 o'clock this morning in the Panama mine of the Ben Franklin Coal Company of West Virginia, said to have been caused by an open lamp carried in by one of the victims, killed eight men and injured three, probably fatally.

The dead are:
  • Joseph Marschilla
  • Mike Redenna
  • Joseph Markeno
  • Alvy Hurley
  • Leslie Wilson
  • Andrew Chesky
  • William Chesky
  • Joseph Cannalie
The injured are:
  • William Hupp, fire boss
  • David Brooks
  • Joseph Mantiels
All of the dead except Hurly and Wilson were foreigners.

Rescue parties headed by General Foreman C. E. McCabe entered the mine and succeeded in finding the injured men.  Later the fan was started, and when the mine entries were cleared of gas another attempt was made to find the missing.  McCabe was overcome and brought to the surface, but others took his place and located the bodies of the men who had been killed.  Finally the work of rescue was halted until the mine could be cleared of gas.

Officials of the coal company late today countermanded the order for the United States Bureau of Mines rescue cars, declaring the entombed miners are dead.  They say it will be days before the mine can be cleared of gas.

The Panama shaft had been closed for several weeks until today when ten men entered the workings for the purpose of loading coal.  They had been in the mine only a short time when the village was alarmed by the sound of a loud explosion, and great volumes of smoke poured from the shaft.  The seventy other employees of the company quickly assembled, and General Foreman McCabe quickly organized a rescue party.

The Panama shaft was recently taken over by the Ben Franklin Coal Company, it having been operated a number of years by another company.

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