the canary was kept in sight while working in the mine
The young men had attended a dance here in town and afterwards went to the house of a friend on the hill above catsburg mine to spend the night. The next morning they started home at 8:00 they took the path traveled by all the local residents of the hill.
As they were walking down the hill they passed the opening of a cave in the abandoned workings of the mine.
It was at this point one of the four slipped and his hat rolled to the bottom of the hole and into the mine.
Not suspecting any danger he scrambled down to regain his lost property, and upon reaching the hat was overcome with black damp.
His companions seeing him fall sent one of them in to see what was the trouble and upon reaching the bottom he too fell to the ground with a loud cry for help! Two more friends rushed to the rescue only to fall unconscious.
A fifth member of the party became alarmed and went to the edge of the hole and seeing his friends lying there quietly, Called but got no answer, and then feeling sure that something terrible had happened started on a run to the catsburg mine for help.
A rescue party was quickly assembled and hurried to the scene.
They lowered him down in the hole on a rope to help his friends but he too was rendered unconscious and had to hauled back out
The news spread like wildfire and soon an immense crowd was gathered at the hole. Many plans were tried to rescue the young men without success until Iron Hooks were attached to long poles by which means the bodies were dragged from the mine.
The hole into which the men fell was about 25 feet deep sloping down gradually so that if the men were not overcome by BLACK DAMP they could have easily crawled out
The young man who was lowered in to rescue his friends will recover
Monongahela, Pa., March 6. --
An explosion in the Catsburg mine of the Monongahela River Consolidated Coal and Coke company
today resulted in the death of five men and the serious injury of several others, two fatally.
ROBERT HOWEY, mine boss, aged 50 years, married.
JAMES HOWEY, aged 20 years, son of mine boss.
ISAAC EASTWOOD, of Monongahela, 40 years old, married.
JOHN GILDER, of Charleroi, Pa., single.
WILLIAM McFARLAND, of Monongahela, married.
JAMES HAGGARD, married, badly burned.
JAMES TERRENT, married, badly burned.
On Monday a premature explosion of dynamite caused gas to ignite
and since that time the mine has been burning.
All the air channels were closed and it was flooded so the flames could be smothered.
This morning twenty men entered the mine to investigate.
It is not explained what caused the explosion,
but it is thought that the turning on of the air which had been shut off by the fan, caused the gas which had accumulated to ignite.
A terrible explosion followed soon after the men entered.
A relief party headed by Superintendent SEDDON and Mine Inspector LOUTITT made an effort, and nearly succeeded in reaching, the imprisoned men, but were compelled to return for air.
All were overcome and are tonight in a serious condition.
A second relief party headed by JOHN COULTER entered the mine by another way but they were forced to retreat. A third party made a futile attempt.
A fourth attempt will be made to reach the bodies of the men who are believed to have perished.
JAMES HAGGARD was reached by one rescuing party. He was found badly burned.
JAMES TERRENT was burned by flames that shot up all around him but he crawled a thousand feet from his companion,
GILDER, who was instantly killed.
The work of rescue will be carried on all night.
At a late hour there is a crowd of women and children about the pit.
At 10:20 a.m., December 6, 1907, explosions occurred at the No. 6 and No. 8 mines at Monongah, West Virginia. The explosions ripped through the mines at 10:28 a.m., causing the earth to shake as far as eight miles away, shattering buildings and pavement, hurling people and horses violently to the ground, and knocking streetcars off their rails. Three-hundred and sixty-two men and boys died. It remains the worst mine disaster in the history of the United States
For a time pandemonium reigned. Every local mine official was missing. It was impossible to fathom the nature and extent of the catastrophe, or to tell whether either mine was on fire or full of gas.
Soon after the explosion, four miners emerged through an outcrop opening, dazed and bleeding but otherwise unharmed. The stunned survivors could tell nothing of the fate of the others still underground.
With the hundreds of shrieking, half-crazed women and crying children came every man left in the town. Volunteers were willing and anxious to help with the rescue work.
Frantically, they cleared away the wreckage at the entrance and tried to force their way into the mine. They soon began to succumb to the toxic mine air and had to be rescued themselves.
The explosion filled the mine with “black damp”, an atmosphere in which no human being could live. It blocked the main heading with wrecked cars and timbers, and demolished one of the fans, which greatly restricted ventilation.
Choking coal dust, rubble, and wrecked equipment impeded the progress of volunteer rescue teams. The No. 8 mine’s huge ventilation fan had been destroyed, and a smaller fan was used to ventilate both mines. Brick stoppings, the partitions used to direct air through the mines, had been blown out. As rescue parties slowly advanced, they used canvas curtains to restore ventilation, dilute gas, and disperse dust.
At the bottom of No. 6 slope, debris from a wrecked trip was found scattered for 250 fhe entire trip consisting of eighteen loaded two-ton cars went down the incline. The explosion occurred before the cars had gone into the pit mouth and before the trip had reached the bottom of the slope
At 4:00 p.m., moaning was heard near a crop hole, and a rescuer was lowered through the hole on a rope. About 100 feet below, he found miner Peter Urban sitting on the shattered body of his brother, Stanislaus, staring glassy-eyed into space as he sobbed uncontrollably. He was the last survivor of the Monongah disaster.
Exhausted volunteers found conditions in the mines almost unbearable, heat was intense, and afterdamp caused headaches and nausea. In some headings, ventilation materials and bodies had to be hauled 3,000 feet over massive roof falls and wrecked machinery, mine cars, timbers, and electrical wiring. The stench of death was barely tolerable, and became overpowering as the search dragged on.
Searchers never lost sight of the fact that there might possibly be some men in the mine alive. They continued to explore all parts of the workings with all possible speed, leaving unnecessary work for another time.
Embalmers worked around the clock in shifts. Caskets lined both sides of the main street. The bank served as a morgue. Churches conducted funeral services several times a day as dozens of men dug long rows of graves on nearby hillsides. Disputes flared over identification of victims, and more than once, a body was claimed by two families.
By December 10, the number of people killed was over 175. It was obvious to most rescue workers, but not to relatives of missing men, that Peter Urban would be the last man to be brought out alive. By Thursday, December 12, all workings had been ventilated and searched and 337 bodies recovered. Twenty-five more victims were found during cleanup operations
Died in the same mine 20 years later.
J.H. Leonard watched as 14 loaded coal cars rose out of the No. 6 Mine in Monongah.Leonard’s main job was to keep the mine’s 9-by-11-foot ventilation fan lubricated. Using large oilcans with long spouts, Leonard oiled the motor and wheels hourly and tightened the fan belt frequently to keep it from slipping. Both jobs were vital to keeping fresh air flowing into the underground workings.Because he worked outside, and relatively close, Leonard was given another key duty: To flip a switch that would derail coal cars if they broke loose. The Monongah Mine’s pulley system was one of the most advanced in the country. But it had encountered problems in the past. Cars had broken loose at the top of the tipple and crashed back into the mine, tearing down wiring, knocking down roof timbers and creating dangerous sparks.That’s just what happened that December morning . Fourteen three-ton coal cars crashed back into the mine, sparking a gigantic explosion that became not just the largest U.S. mine disaster ever, but the worst industrial accident in the nation’s history.