Successful Mine Rescues in December
1869 — December 18, 1869 – The East Sugar Loaf Colliery cave-in in Stockton, Pennsylvania claimed 10 lives on Dec. 18, 1869; only three bodies were ever recovered. The cave-in occurred at 5 a.m. when two houses were swallowed into the ground. A third home went into the subsidence and all but one person got out. It was a young girl who was later rescued from a rooftop. One outcome of the Stockton Mine cave-in was that houses were not built so close to mines after the incident. See more.
1906 — Rescuers worked around the clock to release D. B. Hicks from his tomb in the Edison Tunnel near Bakersfield, California. Trapped there with five other miners on December 7, Hicks’ freedom finally came after his 16 day entrapment. He was the only survivor. On December 12, speaking through a pipe, Hicks told rescuers that he had survived on 40 cents of chewing tobacco. Victory finally came for his rescuers on December 22nd at 11:25 p.m. Source document.
1911 — Four miners were found alive after an undisclosed period following an explosion in the Cross Mountain mine at Briceville, Tennessee. Discovery of Andrew Johnson was made when a dead miner was found in a sitting position in one of the interior chambers. Johnson and the other three were suffering from black damp. Source document.
1915 — A rock slide choked the main gangway in the Newcastle Mine of the Pacific Coast Coal Company near Seattle, Washington, trapping Thomas Zathias for nine hours. Rescuers expected to find his crushed body when they broke through the 60 feet of debris, but instead, they found him calmly sitting on his dinner bucket, awaiting deliverance. Source document.
1940 — December 31, 1940 — 18 hours after a 70-foot roof fall entrapment in the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company’s Kent No. 2 Mine in McIntyre, PA, the following miners were rescued: Edgar Swan, Louis Canton, J. Fulmer, Leland Stutchell and Paul Cochran. Six months later, a mine explosion in the Kent No. 2 mine would take the lives of 7 miners. Source document.
1950 — His life saved by the same huge beam that kept him prisoner for 54 hours, John Wolti was freed from his tomb by rescuers in the Big 4 coal mine at Selleck, Washington. Wolti was brought out of the mine with a crushed arm and suffering from shock and was expected to be hospitalized for a week to ten days. Source document.
1951 — One miner, Cecil Sanders, was rescued after 60 hours from the Orient No. 2 coal mine in West Frankfort, Illinois following an explosion which killed 119. At that time, this disaster was the nation’s worst in the preceding 23 years. Source document.
1957 — Fourteen miners were rescued after more than five hours following an explosion at a Pocahontas Fuel Company No. 31 mine near Amonate, Virginia. Eleven miners died in the blast. The mine is officially listed as being located in McDowell County, West Virginia. Source document.
1960 — John Wolti was rescued 54½ hours following a roof fall accident at the Big 4 Coal Mine in Selleck, Washington. Wolti had been given up for dead the day before his rescue when workers heard his voice, renewing their efforts to reach him. Source document.
1970 — Loren Hinkle was rescued after his 24-hour entombment following a roof fall in the Leckie Coal Company mine near Anjean, West Virginia. Rescuers delivered water and orange juice through a two-inch emergency air vent while they dug him out. Killed in the accident were R. B. Crookshanks and Charles Pitzenbarger. Ironically, Hinkle previously escaped death in a mine fire and another roof collapse. Source document.
1987 — Charles Simpson, Jr. was rescued 19 hours after a roof fall accident at the Slate Top Coal Company mine near Woodbine, Kentucky. Source document.
Rescuer Deaths in December
1907 — Monongah Nos. 6 and 8 Mine Explosion, Monongah, West Virginia — John Narey died in the mine rescue effort during the mine disaster at Monongah Mine, West Virginia Dec. 6, 1907. (from an article in the “Latrobe Bulletin,” Latrobe, PA, Dec. 18, 1907.) In all, three men are said to have lost their lives in the rescue work at Monongah, apparently overcome with smoke or poisonous gases lingering in the mines because they had no proper equipment for entering exploding mines, or proper equipment to revive rescuers or miners who had succumbed to their smoke and poisonous gases.
1921 — Satanic Mine Fire, Morrison, Colorado — Six men were killed by firedamp in the Satanic coal mine of the Colorado Collieries Company, when they attempted to place a bulkhead on the 100-foot level of an abandoned shaft, used as an air course, to stop a fire. The only man brought to the surface, apparently still alive, was Eugene F. Bovie, Sr., of Morrison, father of a young miner, who was overcome when he attempted to rescue his son.
1921 — No. 1 Mine Explosion, Ellsworth, Pennsylvania — On December 31, 1921, Albert Gilmore, a section foreman, lost his life in the No. 1 mine of the Ellsworth Collieries Company, Ellsworth, Pennsylvania, while wearing a Gibbs 2-hour oxygen breathing apparatus following a local mine explosion.
1985 — No. 2 Slope Afterdamp Asphyxiation, Carlstown, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania — Rick Wolfgang helped his injured brother from the No. 2 Slope of the MS&W Coal Company, but perished when he returned to the 4-foot wide tunnel to try to save his father, Gene Wolfgang. Toxic gas flooded the area after the men set off a dynamite charge in the mine. Frank Benner also perished in the accident.
Thanks for the share, RM!