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Mine Disasters in the United States


Taylor Mining Company
Taylor Mine Asphyxiations

Hartford, Ohio County, Kentucky
May 6, 1913
No. Killed 5



Rescuer Deaths

Five men were killed by blackdamp in a deserted shaft of a coal mine belonging to the Taylor Mining Company.  The men were working near the shaft when C. F. Frazier went to explore the abandoned digging.  He fell into the water and the four others who went to his rescue succumbed to blackdamp.  The miners attempting to rescue Frazier included John Killers, J. P. Ramer, F. Tourk, and Jim Porter.


(From Bureau of Mines report by E. B. Mason, Jr.)

The accident occurred at 11:00 a.m., May 6, 1913, at an old air shaft, 22 feet deep, in the abandoned workings of the Taylor Mine at Beaver Dam, Ky., in which five men lost their lives by being overcome by carbon dioxide and drowned at the bottom of the old shaft, which was filled with water.

The abandoned shaft 22 ft. 8 in. deep, had filled up with water to a depth of 6 feet from the old entry, 4 ft. 8 in. in height, and a drainage drift was being driven in from the hillside for the purpose of drawing off this water from the old workings.  This drainage drift had been driven a distance of 24 feet and there remained a thickness of 28 feet of solid coal between the bottom of the old shaft and the face of the drainage entry.  A six foot drill hole had also been bored in advance of the coal face.

The seepage of water through this intervening coal stratum gradually lowered the water level in the old entry, until a 6 inch air space separated the top from the level of the standing water.  Through this air space was forced the carbon dioxide gas from the accumulation in the old workings, and this gas at least partially filled up the old shaft.  Several days prior to the lowering of the water level in the shaft, a Mining Engineer, had descended this old shaft as far as the water permitted and had noticed no ill effects, nor indications of carbon dioxide.

At 11:00 a.m., May 6, 1913, the Mine Foreman, who had charge of the four men driving the drainage entry, started to descend the old shaft, by means of the 2 x 4 timbers with which it was lined.  He fell into the water at the bottom of the shaft, the splash being heard by the General Superintendent, who was standing on the surface about 100 feet distant, conversing with the President of the company.

The Superintendent thought the foreman had slipped and fallen into the water, so ran over at once and started down the shaft.  When part way down he felt that he was being overcome and called for help.  The President (an old man) called to the men working in the drainage entry and they at once responded.  The Labor Foreman at once started down the shaft but was overcome almost immediately and fell upon the Superintendent who was still clinging to the timbers, and both fell into the water.  Two laborers followed with like results, both falling into the water at the bottom of the shaft.

The other laborer from the drainage entry ran to the nearest farmhouse, mile distant for aid with , and brought several men back with them.  Testing with an open light at the top of the shaft, the light was extinguished at a distance of one foot below the surface, and it was then seen how very poisonous the gas was.

More help was then secured from the Taylor Mine, two miles distant, and a rope rigged up with a hook attachment, by which means the five bodies were drawn up from the bottom of the shaft.  Over an hour had elapsed since the men had been overcome and there was no sign of life in any of the bodies.  All had apparently been drowned.  At 2:00 p.m. the State Mine Inspector arrived from Central City with two oxygen helmets and a pulmotor, but it was too late, although the pulmotor was tried on several of the bodies.  The unexpectedness and rapidity with which the accident had occurred, combined with the remote situation of the shaft, rendered rescue impossible.


Kentucky Miners Killed By Blackdamp
Atlanta Constitution, Georgia
May 7, 1913

Hartford, Ky., May 6. -- Five men were killed by blackdamp today in a deserted shaft of a coal mine belonging to the Taylor Mining Company.

The men were working near the shaft when C. F. Frazier went to explore the abandoned digging.  He fell into the water and the four others who went to his rescue succumbed to the blackdamp.

Beside Frazier, the victims were:
  • John Killers
  • J. P. Ramer
  • F. Tourk
  • Jim Porter



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