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West No. 1 Slope Explosives Detonation

Stockton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
July 17, 1894
No. Killed - 8

1894 Pennsylvania Annual Report  PDF Format

See also: No. 1 Slope Cave-in, Dec. 18, 1869

Eight persons were instantly killed by an explosion of powder at the foot of the shaft.  The powder, fuse, and caps were all brought from the surface magazine to the shaft bottom for distribution by the footman.  It is thought that one of the men accidentally dropped fire from an open-flame lamp or pipe into the caps, powder, or fuse causing them to explode.

Eight Coal Digger are Blown to Pieces
Sterling Standard, Illinois
July 19, 1894

Hazelton, Pa., July 18 -- Two hundred sticks of giant powder exploded in the midst of a gang of miners at the Stockton colliery yesterday, and not enough of the men's bodies was left for identification.  On account of the distance of the Stockton colliery from the main breaker it has been customary to send the dynamite and other explosives in boxes to Colliery No. 8 and distribute them to the workmen at the bottom of the second shaft as they appear in the morning on their way to work.

It was Charles O'Donnell's duty to distribute the dynamite and caps.  The first men to go down into the shaft today were the drivers, and these were the only men to return alive from the opening.

How many men or who they were who followed in the next boat will not be known until a list of the living is taken.

The drivers went into the stables to harness their mules, and it was while they were thus engaged that the explosion took place.  Charles Shugart says he saw about a dozen men standing about O'Donnell receiving their powder a moment before the explosion took place.  The drivers were hurled about promiscuously.  The men were paralyzed with fright, and, fearing that an explosion of gas had taken place and that a collapse of the entire mine was about to follow, they waited for death as though paralyzed.

It was in this position that they were found by some miners from Colliery No. 8, who hastened through the subterranean passageways to the scene.  As soon as lights were seen the demoralized drivers hastened to the bottom of the shaft.  There the terrible sight met their gaze.  Strewn over the twisted and torn timbers were fragments of human flesh and bones and limbs of the unfortunate miners.  The men were too much affected to attempt to remove the remains of the dead.

Rescuing parties were quickly formed and, headed by Superintendent Roderick, a corps of miners descended into the mine.  The work of recovering the bodies was at once begun but it was a difficult task.  Fragments of human flesh were found some distance up the slope clinging to the rails and ties and sticking to the roof, while everywhere were bones and limbs.

After surveying the work of destruction, Foreman Shugart emerged from the pit and instituted preparations to bring the remains of the victims to the surface.  The dismembered fragments were put together as well as possible at the bottom of the slope.  After all had been arranged the hoisting to the surface commenced.  In order that the feelings of the relatives might be spared it was arranged to hoist each box to the top of the tower and from there take them to their several homes.  As each box appeared on the surface an agonizing wail went up from the multitude in waiting.  Women tore their hair and shrieks of agony rent the air.  The officials did everything possible to assuage their grief, but very little could be done.

The names of the victims are:
  • Charles O'Donnell, 25
  • Andrew Jabol, 38
  • John Primbone, 22
  • John Koehleda, 28
  • Anthony Morcavitz, 25
  • John Krinock, 28
  • John Motefeski, 24
  • John Brizzon, 25

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