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Mine Disasters in the United States


Taylor Coal and Coke Company
Fuller Mine Explosion

Searights, Fayette County, Pennsylvania
July 6, 1905
No. Killed – 6

(From the 1905 Pennsylvania Bituminous Annual Report)

An explosion of fire damp at the Company’s new shaft caused the death of 6 employees: George Thomas, 35, foreman; John Carter, 27, driller; Walter Williams, 27, Samuel Davis, 35, Charles Carter, 30, and Mike Creedan, 32, laborers.

The shaft had been sunk to a depth of 94 feet when the surface at the top of the shaft, being of a soft nature, began to break the shaft timbers, making it necessary to concrete the top of the shaft.  Sinking was discontinued and a platform built in the shaft about 19 feet from the surface, to remove the dirt preparatory to concreting the top.  This closed off about 72 feet of the bottom of the shaft, where marsh gas was generating, and as there was no circulation of the air a mechanical mixture was set up, filling the shaft with fire damp.

The pump at the bottom of the shaft was oiled at 6 P.M. on July 5.  At 5 o’clock the following morning the shift boss and the pumps, each carrying an open torch, were lowered through a trap door in the platform.  When the flames from the torches came in contact with the fire damp an explosion occurred, throwing the men 75 to 100 feet in the air and killing them both.  The top of the shaft was wrecked by the explosion and the other four men mentioned above were also killed.


Successful Mine Rescue

The rescuing party had a remarkable escape from death.  They had gone to the bottom of the shaft for the last body and had the body securely fastened to the bottom of the temporary rigged bucket when the concrete wall and timbering about the top of the shaft tumbled down a distance of 70 feet.  The timbers caught in such a manner over the top of the bucket as to save the men who were huddled in it from instant death.  They were buried, however, by hundreds of tons of concrete and scaffolding.  Enough crevices were left in the wreckage to supply them with air until they were rescued in half an hour.


Five Men Killed by Explosion in Mine Shaft Near Uniontown
Evening Record, Greenville, Pennsylvania
July 7, 1905

Connellsville, Pa., July 7. -- Five men were instantly killed and four injured in an explosion at the Taylor shaft of the Taylor Coal and Coke Company, half a mile from Searights, on the National Pike, near Uniontown.  Mine Inspector I. C. Roby of the Fifth district is unable to state whether the explosion was due to mine gas or a small tank of gasoline that was located at the head of the shaft where the men were working.

The dead are:
  • George Thomas, 35, foreman
  • John Carter, 27, driller
  • Walter Williams, 27, laborer
  • Samuel Davis, 35, laborer
  • Charles Carter, 30, laborer
  • Mike Creedan, 32, laborer
The other injured are:
  • Gabriel Diggs
  • George W. Betts
  • Caspar Eaton
The Taylor mine is down 94 feet.  It is being sunk by Patterson & McNeil, a shaft sinking firm.  The coal, which lies at a depth of 200 feet, has not been struck.  Most of those killed were working on a platform about 20 feet from the mouth of the shaft putting timbers up for a concrete wall.  Several of the workmen were about the top of the shaft, while others were on the platform below.  It is thought that one of the workmen above set fire to the gasoline with an open torch he was carrying.

Rescuers Narrowly Escape Death

The work of rescue was started within a few minutes after the explosion occurred.  The rescuing party had a remarkable escape from death.  They had gone to the bottom of the shaft for the last body and had the body securely fastened to the bottom of the temporary rigged bucket when the concrete wall and timbering about the top of the shaft tumbled down a distance of 70 feet.  The timbers caught in such a manner over the top of the bucket as to save the men who were huddled in it from instant death.  They were buried, however, by hundreds of tons of concrete and scaffolding.  Enough crevices were left in the wreckage to supply them with air until they were rescued in half an hour.




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