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Pulaski Iron Company
Pulaski Mine Powder Explosion

Eckman, McDowell County, West Virginia
December 14, 1906
No. Killed - 6

Final Investigation Report  (1.4 Mb)  PDF Format
Other Woman Killed in Mine Accidents
Note:  This disaster is not included on the CDC/NIOSH disaster list, however, it was found in the Annual Report of the West Virginia Department of Mines and the MSHA Fatality Archive Database.


At the Pulaski mine at Eckman, McDowell County, a car load of about 400 kegs of powder had been unloaded into four mine cars and was being hauled to the magazine by an electric motor attached to the cars.

The men who had been engaged in unloading the powder were riding on the mine cars, some on the kegs of powder.

Just as the trip of cars was passing a tenement house the powder exploded, due to the electric current forming an arc with some of the powder cans.

One woman was by a window within the house and another woman was in the yard near the house at the time of the explosion.  The house was demolished and the women and the men on the trip of cars so badly burned that the two women and four of the men died, one man dying while en route to the Miners' Hospital at Welch and the others dying at the Hospital.

The Deceased:
Steel, Joseph(Male, Italian; 2 yrs exper; age 19; Single)
Witcher, James(Male, Negro, 4 yrs exper; age 34; Married; 3 Children)
Mullins, Ad.(Male, Negro, 5 yrs exper; age 22; Single)
Finey, Alex(Male, Negro; 4 yrs exper; age 36; Married)
Rhodes, Parthena(Female, Negro; Non-employee; Married; 2 Children)
Johnson, Martha A.(Female, Negro; Non-employee; Married; 1 Child)

1907 Annual Report of the West Virginia Department of Mines

Fatal Powder Blast
The Washington Post, District of Columbia
December 15, 1906

Bluefield, W. Va., Dec. 14. An explosion at Eckman today of 10,000 pounds of powder, which was being transported on three mine cars from a freight car to the powder house of the Pulaski Company, resulted in the death of one, the fatal injury of two, and the serious injury of eight others.  Three of the injured are women whose homes, near the scene of the explosion, were wrecked.

The dead:
  • Joseph Steel, 19, died on the way to the hospital
Fatally Injured:
  • Alex Finney, 36
  • Mrs. George Johnson
Seriously Injured:
  • Edward Mullin, 22
  • Felix Harduett
  • Mrs. Mary Forbes
  • T. Hairston
  • George Bland, 22
  • Oscar Cowns
  • C. W. Case
  • Mrs. Mary Rhoads
Wrecked Houses Take Fire

The wrecked houses took fire, and the scene was soon thronged with people.  Timbers and empty powder cans were scattered over a large area.

The men were on the powder-laden cars and the women were in the houses nearby.  The powder was in tins, and was moved from a freight car to the magazine, when sparks from the motor wheels or current from the motor set it off.  The houses nearby were torn into splinters, and the detonation rocked the entire village.  In a few minutes hundreds had congregated and engaged in fighting the fire, which broke out as soon as the explosion occurred.  Some of the wounded were horribly burned, several of them lost their eyes, and the flesh hung in tatters from their bodies.

Note:  According to the West Virginia Annual Report, this explosion killed 4 employees and 2 non-employees on the surface near the mine.

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