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Mine Disasters in the United States


Red Ash Coal Company
Rush Run - Red Ash Mine Explosions

Red Ash, Fayette County, West Virginia
March 18 & 19, 1905
No. Killed - 24




Listen:  This Week in West Virginia History  

See also:   Red Ash Mine Explosion, Mar. 6, 1900

Rescuer Deaths

Five hours after the mine ceased operations for the day, an explosion occurred in the Rush Run mine, in which 8 men lost their lives.  The explosion extended into the Red Ash mine, where 5 more men lost their lives.  To rescue these men, 11 men entered the Rush Run mine and were lost in a second explosion.  Source document  


(From State inspector's report, 1905, pp. 265-266)

These drift mines are in the FireCreek seam, from 3 to 7 feet in thickness.  Explosive gas has been generated ever since they were opened; in addition, mining has been done by machinery which created more fine dust than in mines where picks are employed.

On Mar. 6, 1900, 46 lives were lost in the Red Ash mine.  At that date these two mines were separate; since then they have been connected.  On March 18, 1905, five hours after the mine had ceased operation for the day, an explosion occurred in the Rush Run mine by which 8 men lost their lives; the explosion extended into the Red Ash mine, where 5 more men lost their lives.

To rescue these men, 11 men entered the Rush Run mine and were lost in a second explosion.  The first explosion resulted from blasting or from loose explosives on the track run over by a car, causing a widespread dust explosion.

The second occurred when gas accumulated by derangement of the ventilation was ignited by open lights of the rescue party.

These mines were regularly inspected and found apparently safe under all ordinary conditions.  Every requirement of the Mining Laws was being observed.

There are hundreds of our miners and bosses who cannot be induced to believe that explosions can be brought about by dust.  Any method by which this danger could be demonstrated on a small scale at a public exhibition among our mining people, would undoubtedly be most effective education.

The chief mine inspector, James W. Paul (later employed by the Federal Bureau of Mines), an able engineer with keen powers of observation and analysis, included a number of sound conclusions and recommendations on explosion hazards in his published report for the year ended June 30, 1905.

The investigations and experiences of his department with mine explosions in West Virginia showed that the mining laws and even nominally good safety practices of that day did not serve to prevent mine explosions under conditions often occurring in the mines.

Among the causes and remedies discussed were:
  • The changing conditions at the mines have revolutionized the character of labor employed by reason of the introduction of machinery to supplant manual labor and animals.

  • Inexperienced men are employed who know practically nothing about the dangers within a mine and are unable to exercise the care essential to their own safety.  Any safeguard will have to operate through those having immediate supervision of the employee.

  • A remedy presents itself in requiring all mine bosses and firebosses to have a State license.  Where inspectors find the boss permitting any dangerous practices, his license should be revoked.

  • All powder carried into the mines shall be in cans, not to exceed 5 pounds.

  • Where breakthroughs in me rooms are not closed as additional breakthroughs are made, place "checks" across the entry to divert the current of air into the rooms and if ventilation is not sufficient place brattices in the breakthroughs.

  • Remove dust from the mine, and make the dry parts wet by spraying systematically and regularly.

  • All coal operators should have on hand a safety lamp, kept in good order.

The dead, 1st explosion Rush Run:

Andrew Wear, married
Charles Jones, married
Hally Jarrett
Percy Wood, colored.
Clarence Allen, colored

Dead of Red Ash:

Joe Kioski
Martin Kioski
Charles Cruger
Clarence Jackson, colored
Killed by 2nd explosion:

Crockett Hutchinson, machine boss
Thomas Bannister, fire boss
E. W. Henson, married
Will Coon
Peter Hutchinson
Norman Hutchinson
James Gwinn
Charles Gwinn
Hence Moseley
Earnest Philips
George Hopkins
Thomas Allen, colored
Clay Mosely, colored
Randolph Washington, colored

Additional Resources:
WVExp.com I  
WVExp.com II  
Gen Disasters.com  

In the News:
PDF Format Fort Wayne Journal
PDF Format Galveston Daily News
PDF Format Washington Post


Twenty-Four Killed
The Fitchburg Sentinel, Massachusetts
March 20, 1905

Charleston, W. Va., March 20. -- As the result of an explosion in the Rush Run and Red Ash mines near Thurmond, 24 men now lie stark to death in the two mines.  Ten of these were killed in a explosion Saturday night and the other 14 were a rescuing party who entered the mine yesterday to take from the mines the charred and blackened remains of their fellow workmen.  These latter were killed by a second explosion and the after damp.

The first explosion seemed to shake the foundations of the mountains, and the angry twin flash from the two neighboring drift mouths lighted up the heavens for miles around.  Soon, from the mining villages for several miles up and down the river, hundreds of people rushed to the scene of the disaster.

The first explosion was caused by a "naked" flame coming in contact with the gas.  The flames leaped from the drift mouth and set fire to everything in reach that was not blown out of harm's way by the force of the explosion.  The great drum by which the loaded cars are run from the drift mouth down the incline to the tipple and the empties drawn up, was blown from its moorings and down the mountain side 600 feet, while the drum-house caught fire and was totally consumed.  The big fan which furnished air in the mine was so damaged that it was several hours before it could be started again.

After considerable time the great fan was repaired and the power turned on and it began drawing 100,000 cubic feet of air through the charnel house each minute.  A rescue party was formed and about 20 men entered the mine in search of the dead bodies of those who had perished at the first explosion.  The men explored the mines for two or three hours, putting up brattices so that pure air should follow them wherever they went.  Finally some of them came out and reported that the others were too careless in going forward faster that the good air was being supplied, carrying at the same time a "naked" light.

At 3:45 another awful explosion occurred, caused by the gas coming in contact with the "naked" flame of a miner's lamp and 14 more souls were launched into eternity.  This explosion was not so forcible as the former, but more awful in its effects, and was followed by a shorter, thinner tongue of flame, followed by a silence so deadly that it seemed physically painful, and darkness impenetrable.

Mine Inspector Pinckney, soon arrived on the ground and took charge of the rescue work.  The second explosion again damaged the fan and Pinckney will allow no one to enter the mine until it is working properly and a draft of fresh air is running through the mine.  When this is done, he will lead the rescue squad himself.

The dead, first explosion Rush Run:
  • Andrew Wear, married
  • Charles Jones, married
  • Hally Jarrett
  • Percy Wood, colored
  • Clarence Allen, colored
Dead Of Red Ash:
  • Joe Kioski
  • Martin Kioski
  • Charles Cruger
  • Clarence Jackson, colored
Killed by second explosion:
  • Crockett Hutchinson, machine boss
  • Thomas Bannister, fire boss
  • E. W. Henson, married
  • Will Coon
  • Peter Hutchinson
  • Norman Hutchinson
  • James Gwinn
  • Charles Gwinn
  • Hence Moseley
  • Earnest Philips
  • George Hopkins
  • Thomas Allen, colored
  • Clay Mosely, colored
  • Randolph Washington, colored



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