Successful Mine Rescues in June
1915 — Rush of Mud and Water into the Longacre-Chapman Zinc Mine, Neck City, Missouri – Six men were imprisoned. Four were rescued alive after 120 hours of difficult work by company men, volunteers, State mine Inspectors, and Bureau of Mines men. Two men found were dead on the fourteenth day following the accident. Source document.
1917 — Twenty-five of 29 miners imprisoned on the 2400-foot level of the Speculator Mine of the North Butte Mining Company were brought to the surface after being trapped for 36 hours. They owed their lives to crew member, Manus Duggan, a 20-year-old nipper boy, who didn’t make it out himself. According to Nyrja Johnson, the first man to the surface, Duggan directed all the work in their effort to barricade themselves from the gases. He had the men strip naked and use their clothes to block out the toxic gas. Duggan became lost when he went ahead of the crew to test for gases. 163 miners were killed in this disaster. See more. Source document.
1929 — Three miners became ensnared in a cave-in at the 750-foot level of the South Eureka Mine, Sutter Creek, California. George Carevich escaped unaided and reported the accident. After several hours, Thomas Rodovich, who was entombed with Mike Matlick, was taken out alive but badly lacerated. While no further news about Matlick could be found, it was agreed by company officials that his chances of survival were slim. Source document.
1933 — Joseph Terescavage, a 51-year old miner, from Shamokin, PA was rescued after having been entombed for two days in the collapsed Madeira Hill mine near Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania. Source document.
1936 — Caught by crumbling rock and fallen timbers in a Helena, Montana mine, Ed Moore became held firmly by the jam. One of the owners, John Brophy, who was working with him, managed to get out and get help. Despite being warned by Moore not to come down, rescuers worked for four hours to free him and return him to his wife and daughter, who were waiting on the surface. Source document.
1952 — June 2, 1952: Three of five miners were rescued after being trapped for 24 hours by a cave-in at Republic Steel Corporation’s Penokee Iron Ore Mine near Ironwood, Michigan. The rescued miners were Victor Cox, Christopher Hocking, and Mack Krecker. The body of Jerome Olkonen was later found by rescuers, lying beside his machine. The fate of the 5th miner, Serafim Zackarzewski, and is not known, although mine officials feared he would have been crushed to death in the fall of rock. See more.
1957 — Five miners were rescued from the Betsy No. 3 coal mine operated by the Powhatan Mining Company at Fernwood, Ohio. Released from their tomb after their entrapment of 14½ hours were Hank Horvath, Martin Kovalski, Fred Sabol, Joseph Supinski, and Kenny Hamilton. The Betsy No. 3 mine is a small, “punch mining operation” that produces about 600 tons of coal per day. Source document.
1962 — An 8-year-old boy was responsible for saving two miners caught in a cave-in at the Bull Gulch lead and zinc mine near Jefferson City, Montana. Robert Steinbacher and Henry Madison, who were both in considerable pain, were safely removed from the mine by rescuers after their brief entrapment. Source document.
1970 — Amateur miner, Clifford J. Cox, was pulled out of the abandoned Hazard Gold Mine near Foresthill, California when he was found laying unconscious after 11 hours in the mine. Would-be rescuer, Lester Benbow, a school teacher, died from a lack of oxygen in the incident. Source document.
Rescuer Deaths in June
1901 — Port Royal No. 2 Mine Explosion and Fire, Port Royal, Pennsylvania — The initial blast occurred at about 6 p.m. on June 10. About 1 hour after the initial blast, Superintendent William McCune (or McComb), Dennis Wortley, Michael Roy, several other bosses, along with about 20 other men went down Shaft No. 1 in search of 4 missing miners. About 3 hours after the rescue party had been in the mine, more explosions were heard.
Four hours later, four more men volunteered to enter the mine, but as of 3 a.m. on June 11, they too had not returned. Shortly after 3 a.m., W. Sweeney, Harry Beveridge and Frank Stratton worked their way out of the mine and were put under the care of physicians. All three of these men later died. Lawrence Settler and John Stakes were the only ones rescued from the mine. While 19 is the official death toll, it is unclear exactly how many were rescuers. See all related news.
1906 — Rocky Fork Mine Fire, Red Lodge, Montana — To suppress a fire, the fan was reversed, which reversed the air current supplying fresh air to the fighters in room 6. This resulted in forcing the noxious gases onto the men fighting the fire in room 6. Six men lost their lives from the crew fighting the fire in room 6, while two of the rescuers, Roy Carey and Joe Bracey, lost their lives in a vain attempt to rescue the men fighting the fire in room 6.
1908 — Gold King Mine Fire, Gladstone, Colorado — After extinguishing the blaze, five rescuers searching for 3 missing miners fell victim to toxic mine air. In all, 6 were killed in the incident, including Victor Erickson, along with rescuers Peter McNini, Roy Coburn, Alf Johnson, A. W. Burns, and Gus Olson. John Sunston and Otto Johnson were returned to the surface barely alive.
1970 — Hazard Gold Mine Asphyxiation, Foresthill, California — Lester E. Benbow, age 41, schoolteacher, Foresthill Elementary School, was asphyxiated in the Hazard Gold Mine in the early morning of June 20, 1970, when he attempted to rescue Clifford J. Cox, who was overcome in an oxygen deficient atmosphere. He had no mining experience. Cox was later transported to the hospital, and reportedly made a complete recovery.
1975 — Boron Mine and Mill Asphyxiation, Boron, California — About 3:30 p.m., June 25, 1975, W. E. (Willie) Dodderer, millwright, age 27, was asphyxiated when he and Eric R. Willis, millwright, entered a caisson in an attempt to rescue Brent Black, millwright, age 35, who had succumbed earlier in an oxygen deficient atmosphere.
1981 — Grays Knob No. 5 Inundation, Harlan County, Kentucky — The entire section crew, except for two roof bolters, who remained unaccounted for, boarded a scoop to ride to the surface via the man trip route. Soon after, however, the section foreman left the fleeing scoop to search for the two missing roof bolters. Later that afternoon, the bodies of the foreman and the two roof bolters – all victims of asphyxiation – were recovered.
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.