Successful Mine Rescues in March
1912 — Following an explosion and cave-in, a total of 25 workmen were rescued after an undisclosed period from the San Bois No. 2 coal mine near McCurtain, Oklahoma. Of the last 14 rescued, three had to be removed by stretcher. They were located in a small area where they had placed a curtain to exclude foul air. Tapping sounds through a water pipe led to their discovery. 73 miners perished in the disaster. Source document.
1915 — On March 2, 1915, an explosion occurred at the Layland No. 3 Mine in Layland, West Virginia. The explosion occurred at 8:30 a.m., resulting in the deaths of 114 men inside the mine and 1 outside. Fifty-four men afterward escaped alive from the mine. Seven came out from 2 to 5 hours after the explosion; 5 more escaped unassisted at 8 a.m. on March 6 (4 days later), and 42 others were rescued an hour later. Of those killed, 44 died from suffocation. The store porter passing the drift mouth at a distance of 100 feet at the time of the explosion was hurled against a post and killed.
1933 — Bootleg anthracite miner, John Cheslock, was rescued from the abandoned Sayre colliery near Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. In a state of collapse, but conscious, Cheslock was rescued following a 4 day entrapment. Source document.
1936 — Gus Brown and his three husky sons rescued “Fannie,” their pet pony from the family coal mine in Louis Hollow near Crooksville, Ohio. Fannie, trapped 19 days due to a cave-in, emerged sleepily and appeared none the worse for her experience. The pony, led through hastily-driven shafts was taken into the Brown home and given a warm place by the kitchen stove. Source document.
1940 — Willow Grove No. 10 Mine Explosion – An explosion in this mine resulted in the death of 72 miners. Twenty-two others were overcome by afterdamp, rescued and taken to the surface. Seventy-nine uninjured men were temporarily imprisoned and rescued five hours later. Investigators believe that the explosion was caused by the firing of a shot charged with black powder.
1942 — Teddy the mule was rescued following an 8-day entrapment after a roof fall occurred in the Cracker Jack mine near Boulder, Colorado. Teddy survived the ordeal by nibbling on bark from pine roof props and drinking from pools of water in the damp mine. The owner, Joe Robertson, turned Teddy out to pasture to rest for a month following his ordeal. Source document.
1969 — William “Buck” Jones was rescued 8 days following a cave-in at the Deep Lark lead, zinc and silver mine near Lark, Utah. The elderly miner was tired but able to laugh following his ordeal. He was greeted on the surface by his wife and 11 children. Source document.
1977 — Ronald Adley survived after being trapped for nearly 6 days following an inundation of water at the Porter Tunnel Mine owned by the Kocher Coal Company in Tower City, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Nine miners were killed in the accident.
1979 — Trapped for 6½ hours by a rockslide at the Upper Taggert Coal Mine at Oven Fork, Kentucky, Larkin Napier was rescued. Two other miners, Grant Sturgill and Ernest Stetzer, were crushed by the falling rock. Source document.
Rescuer Deaths in March
1905 — Rush Run and Red Ash Mine Explosions, Red Ash, West Virginia — Five hours after the mine ceased operations for the day, an explosion occurred in the Rush Run mine, in which 8 men lost their lives. The explosion extended into the Red Ash mine, where 5 more men lost their lives. To rescue these men, 11 men entered the Rush Run mine and were lost in a second explosion. Source document.
1907 — Seattle Electric Company, Renton County, Washington — Victim’s little son was waiting for his father to finish work so that he might ride the horse to the barn. As the father was dumping his last car, the boy fell into the hot ashes. The father jumped to rescue him and both were so badly burned that they died a few days later.
1908 — Hanna No. 1 Mine Explosions, Hanna, Wyoming — Mine Superintendent, Alexander Briggs, along with 19 volunteers were killed by an explosion in the Union Pacific Coal Company’s Hanna No. 1 mine. This group had gone into the mine to fight a fire that had been raging there since the previous Saturday. A short time later, a second explosion occurred in the mine, killing 39 others, including State Mine Inspector, D. M. Elie, who had gone into the mine with hopes of rescuing the first group. In all, 59 were killed in this disaster.
1924 — Castle Gate No. 2 Mine Explosions, Castle Gate, Utah — Before experienced apparatus men arrived, a member of a crew from a neighboring mine was killed by inhaling carbon monoxide due to removing his nose clip in some way.
1937 — Kramer Mine Explosions, DuBois, Pennsylvania — A spark from a locomotive ignited a body of methane in the first explosion, a fire ignited the 2nd. Two were killed in the first explosion and 7 were killed in the second explosion. The others died in an effort to rescue their fellow man, when a second explosion of gas took place. Source document.
1940 — Willow Grove No. 10 Mine Explosion, Neffs, Ohio — On this Saturday morning 176 men were in the mine, when an explosion killed 66 by burns and violence and 3 by burns and afterdamp. Two others attempting rescue were asphyxiated, and 1 rescued man died 6 days later from the effects of afterdamp.
1944 — Katherine No. 4 Mine Explosion, Shinnston, West Virginia — Firefighting crews were formed after all miners were withdrawn from the Katherine No. 4 mine to fight a fire discovered there at 11:00 p.m. A subsequent explosion of methane and coal dust occurred, killing everyone in the mine fighting the fire at the time. Windows were shattered in homes 2 miles away and buildings were rocked.
1971 — Nemacolin Mine Fire, Nemacolin, Pennsylvania — On April 16, 1971, at about 1:30 p.m., William L. Groves, State Deep Mine Inspector, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, was accidentally drowned during the firefighting operations.
1976 — Scotia Mine Explosions, Ovenfork, Kentucky — On March 11, 1976, at the time of the second explosion, 13 men were underground near the entrance of 2 Southeast Main; 11 died as the result of the explosion and 2 repairmen working a short distance outby escaped without injury. Among the 11 killed on March 11 were 3 Federal Mine Inspectors: Kenneth Kiser, age 45; Richard Sammons, age 55; and Grover Tussey, age 45. This disaster gave birth to the Health and Safety Act of 1977, including new rules for mine rescue teams, stations, and training.
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!