Successful Mine Rescues in January
1846 — Following a massive roof fall in the Delaware-Hudson Mine, John Hosey clambered his way through the damaged mine and managed to get out after being confined in the mine for 48 hours. He was not seriously injured, except that his hands were lacerated from working his way through the rocks and slate.
1914 — Cave-in at Black Diamond Mine, Luzerne, Pennsylvania – Four miners were rescued afterseven hours by parties led by company officials. Source document.
1926 — 20 miners managed to escape death’s clutches after being trapped for 20 hours in the mule stables following an explosion of the Jamison No. 8 mine in Farmington, West Virginia. 19 miners were killed in the disaster.
1934 — John Ryan, 28, died shortly after he had been rescued from a “bootleg” coal mine near Pottsville, Pennsylvania in which he had been trapped for 48 hours. Joseph Slane, 30, who was trapped with Ryan was rescued after a third miner, Vincent Burns, had spread the alarm. Source document.
1950 — Joseph Burda was rescued after being trapped for 40 hours in a “bootleg” anthracite mine near Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. He and his brother, Edward, became trapped following a cave-in. Rescue attempts carried on for Edward, however, it is unknown if they were successful. Source document.
1960 — Joseph Mismash was rescued after being trapped 15 hours in a U. S. Steel Corporation iron mine near Ely, Minnesota. Mismash was trapped in a walled-in cubicle blocked by a 14 foot-thick block of ore. Source document.
1961 — Rescuers saved 15-year-old, Larry Dacek, after falling down an airshaft of the abandoned Sutro Tunnel silver mine near Virginia City, Nevada. He was trapped for 11 hours there. Mining experts said Dacek escaped certain death by coming to rest on a rock layer supported by a few rotten timbers. Below him was a straight 1,400 foot fall. Source document.
1964 — Stanley Johnson was rescued after his 27-hour entrapment following a cave-in at a MacKay, Utah lead and copper mine owned by Empire Copper Mines. There were no others killed or injured in the accident. Source document.
1967 — Two miners, Virgil Williamson and Harry Silman, became trapped after a roof fall in the Shannopin Mine of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation. Williamson was found dead early on January 24 and Silman was rescued after 2 hours. Taken to the hospital, he was listed in fair condition, suffering from shock and bruises. Source document.
1969 — Twelve miners were rescued after being trapped more than six hours after a fire at the Christopher Coal Company, Humphrey No. 7 mine near Mount Morris, Pennsylvania. Eleven of the miners were walked out by rescuers, one man was removed by stretcher. Source document.
2003 — Injured miner Aaron Meyer, three Sheriff’s Deputies and a Paramedic clambered into an oversized bucket attached to a crane following the McElroy Mine Shaft Explosion at Cameron, West Virginia, which lowered them to the injured miners below. They successfully rescued Benjamin Bair, 23, and Richard Brumley, 51. On September 29, 2005, the five men were awarded the Carnegie Medal for Heroism. Included were Aaron Meyer, Jack Cain, Pat Mull, Brent Wharry and Steve Cook.
2006 — One miner, Randal McCloy Jr., is found alive after 40 hours following the Sago Mine Explosion in West Virginia. Twelve miners died in the accident. This disaster prompted the creation of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act).
2010 — Three Illinois miners were rescued from a DPOS after being trapped more than 5 hours in the No. 29 mine of the Doe Run Company near Viburnum on January 21, 2010. Their escape was cut off when a 30-ton haul truck caught fire. The trapped miners were: Robert McClain, truck driver; Michael Byers, loader operator; and Timothy Yount, scaler operator. See more.
Rescuer Deaths in January
1904 — Harwick Mine Explosion, Cheswick, Pennsylvania — Of 175 mine workers underground at the time, the single survivor was the severely burned 16-year-old, Adolph Gunia. Other casualties included Daniel A. Lyle and the mine engineer, Selwyn M. Taylor, who both gave their lives in rescue attempts after responding to the scene. Greatly touched by Taylor’s and Lyle’s sacrifice, Andrew Carnegie had medals privately minted for their families, and within two months had established a $5 million Carnegie Hero Fund as a result.
1906 — Haverstraw Clay Pit Collapse, Haverstraw, New York — After a house was toppled into a pit cut by clay diggers in Haverstraw, NY, five men went to the rescue to aid their neighbors. After the first house fell, twelve other houses went crashing over the precipice. The wreckage quickly caught fire, and those who were in the mass were either crushed or burned to death. Seventeen persons were killed.
1909 — Northwestern Mine Asphyxiation, Ashford County, Washington — After a miner fired shots in the Northwestern coal mine, an explosion occurred. Another victim (Dinkler), with others, went to rescue the shotfirer, but was overcome by after damp before he could.
1912 — Cherry Valley Mine Fire, Cherry Valley, Pennsylvania — John Ferrell of the U.S. Bureau of Mines was killed while exploring a mine in which a fire was raging. Ferrell had been in charge of the Bureau of Mines Rescue Car No. 5 since October 1911. At a mine rescue a few weeks earlier at Briceville, Tennessee, Ferrell rescued five men. It is unknown if any others were killed or injured in the Cherry Valley Mine Fire.
Note: In all, 68 successful mine rescues, and 84 incidents of rescuer deaths have been located. If others are known, please contact Rob at [email protected] and I’ll research them further.
Thanks for the share, RM!