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Mine Disasters in the United States

Taylor Coal and Coke Company
Taylor Shaft Explosion

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

Editor's Note:  There is some confusion related to this disaster.  According to the CDC mine disaster list, Fuller is the name of this mine while the news article states it to be Taylor.  No archived documents have been discovered for either mine name.

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:
  • John Carter, colored
  • Walter Williams, colored
  • Samuel Davis
  • Charles Spatka
  • Michael Chodno
George Thomas, foreman, in charge of the work at the time of the explosion, is fatally injured.

The other injured are:
  • Gabriel Diggs
  • George W. Betts
  • Caspar Eaton, colored
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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