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Mine Disasters in the United States


Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company
Potts Colliery Explosion

Locustdale, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania
January 15, 1878
No. Killed - 5

Related News Articles from the Period  (2.0 Mb)  PDF Format

Additional Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Co. Disasters:


(From the 1870 PA Anthracite Report of Inspectors of Coal Mines)

January 15 — Henry Jones, miner, aged forty-five years; Hugh Wilson, miner, aged fifty years; William Basket, miner, aged forty-five years; George Sliivelhood, miner, aged thirty years ; and Jacob Guir, driver boy, aged eighteen years, were killed at the Potts colliery by explosion of carbureted hydrogen gas.

Jones, Basket, and Sliivelhood, were working in the west gangway, and, according to ante-mortem testimony of Sliivelhood, there came a rush of gas upon them in the gangway, they ran, taking their safety-lamps with them, which were burning, full of sulphur.  That he, Sliivelhood, smothered the flame in his lamp, but that he saw his partner, Basket, blow in his, and that the explosion occurred immediately after.  Sliivelhood died very shortly after giving his testimony.

Hugh Wilson was working in the upper monkey or air course at the time of the accident.  After the explosion he was found in the cross-hole lying on his back, without any marks of violence, the evidence leading to the presumption that in retreating outward after the explosion he was overcome by the after-damp, which caused his death.

The driver boy, Guir, found about two hundred yards from face of gangway.  From all the evidence, and the condition of gangway on examination after the explosion, the conclusion arrived at in his case was that lie was struck by some of the debris that was strewn about the gangway by the force of the explosion.  Seven batteries and five doors were blown down.  The mule he was was driving was also killed at the same time.


Four Men Killed - One fatally and Others Seriously Injured
January 16, 1878

About eight o’clock last evening a quantity of sulfur gas in Potts Colliery two miles north of Ashland was accidently ignited and an explosion followed.

Four men are known to have been killed.  Their names are Henry Jones, Hugh Wilson, Walter Cosgrove, and a man named Geiger.  George Shivelhood was severely and two others slightly injured.  

Considerable excitement prevailed at Ashland and Locust Dale last night, the mine where the accident occurred being midway between those places.


The Names of the Killed and Wounded in Full

Shenandoah, Jan, 16 -- By the explosion last night at Potts Colliery of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, near Ashland, four men were killed outright, one fatally injured, and a boy slightly burned.

The killed were:
  • Harry Jones, miner
  • Hugh Wilson, miner
  • Jacob Geiger, driver
  • William Bosket, laborer
George Shivelhood, a laborer, was fatally injured, and when found resembled a mass of raw flesh.  In his agony, he had torn all his clothing from his body excepting his drawers.

Joseph Kinnery, a door boy, escaped with a few slight bruises and managed to crawl out and notify men working in the slope of the explosion.

When the explosion took place, Geiger was going in with a wagon.  He was sitting on the front of it, and the boy, Kinney, on the back, closing the doors as they went up.  Geiger was killed, the wagon smashed up, the mule killed, but Kinney escaped.  It is supposed the explosion was caused by one of the men trying to blow his safety lamp out.

The colliery was considered one of the best ventilated in the possession of the company.  It was idle but this gang of six men and boys were repairing a gangway.



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