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Illinois
Coal & Coal Mining
History & Genealogy

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Coal Mining Disasters in Illinois
1911 to 1920
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List of Illinois Coal Mine Disasters Reference Sources

Accident
      February 13, 1911, a deplorable accident occurred at the No. 3 mine of the Saline County Coal Company, Harrisburg, in which four men lost their lives. This was a new mine, the shaft had just been sunk, and the sinking buckets were still in use. The afternoon shift was timbering and had come on top to eat supper. Returning to their work, the men were being lowered in the sinking bucket to the platform, about 80 feet down the shaft; one load having been landed, three men got in the bucket ready to be lowered. The top man noticed that the safety link attached to the hook which fastened the rope to the bucket was not in place and called the attention of the men to the fact, when one of them said, "Let it go at that". The top man then gave the signal to lower. Two men were on one side of the bucket and one on the other, which caused it to tip. The hook became detached from the rope and the men and bucket were precipitated to the platform, killing them and one other who had preceded them.
 
1911 Annual Coal Report10 - Fatal Accidents
      February 13, 1911, a deplorable accident occurred at the No. 3 mine of the Saline County Coal Company, Harrisburg, in which four men lost their lives.
      This is a new mine, the shaft having just been sunk, and the sinking buckets were still in use.
      The afternoon shift were timbering and had come on top to eat supper. They had a platform built in the shaft about 80 ft. down, the shaft being about 200 feet deep.
      The bucket was not allowed to swing in the shaft, being held in place by a follower and guides, and was attached to the rope by a hook and safety link.
      The rope was hooked to the bucket by one of the men who failed to fasten safety link attached to hook.
      One bucket load of men who lowered to the bottom platform, the second load was in the bucket ready to be lowered, when the top man noticed that the safety link was not in place, and so informed the men. One of them said "let it go at that." The top man gave the signal to lower. Two men were standing on the south of the bucket to one on the north side, which caused the bucket to tip and catch on the edge of the platform. The hook became detached from the rope and the three men and bucket were precipitated to the platform below, killing them and one other who had preceded them. The names of the men killed follows:
 
M. A. Holcomb, laborer, aged 27 years, leaves a widow and two children.
 
Frank Macigewaski, laborer, aged 28 years, leaves a widow and two children.
 
John Monssino, laborer, aged 28 years, single.
 
John Owsiany, laborer, aged 33 years, leaves a widow and four children.

Explosion
      October 23, 1911, eight men lost their lives in O'Gara Coal Company's mine No. 9, Harrisburg, Saline County. This company was operating mines No. 9 and No. 4, which were connected at the face of the main north entry of mine No. 9. Number 4 mine had been closed for repairs in the main shaft and it seems that the section of this mine nearest No. 9 mine had not been sufficiently ventilated. These men were working near the connection of these mines when one entered into mine No. 4 with his naked light and an explosion occurred, blowing the door down between the two mines, allowing afterdamp to rush on to them, causing their death by suffocation.
 
1912 Annual Coal Report11 - Fatal Accidents
 
Daniel Austin, miner, aged 18 years, single. He was the son of Joseph Austin and this accident took both father and son from the family.
 
Joseph Austin, miner, aged 56 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
Samuel Barnaby, miner, aged 36 years, married, leaves a widow and three children.
 
Alfred Bowen, miner, aged 30 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
George Edwards, miner, aged 28 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
Oscar Chick Parks, machine runner, aged 31 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
Frank Steckston, miner, aged 28 years, single.
 
Wm. K. Stringer, miner, aged 22 years, married, leaves a widow and two children.

Explosion
      January 15, 1913, an explosion caused by firing two dead holes in Crescent Coal Company's mine, Peoria, resulted in the death of three men, two of them shot firers, the other a miner, who were overcome by afterdamp caused by the explosion.
 
1913 Annual Coal Report12 - Fatal Accidents
      Men employed at the Crescent Coal Company's No. 1 mine, Peoria, were killed by an explosion caused by firing two dead holes.
 
William Benn, shot-firer, aged 26 years, married, leaves a widow and two children.
 
Edward Jones, shot-firer, aged 29 years, married, leaves a widow.
 
Phillip Krummel, laborer, aged 46 years, married, was overcome by afterdamp caused by the explosion which killed the two shot-firers. He leaves a widow and four children.

Gas Explosion
      February 19, 1913, four men were killed in Eldorado Coal and Mining Company's mine, Eldorado, Saline County, by an explosion of gas. These men had just arrived at their working places when they came in contact with an accumulation of gas, which ignited and resulted in their death. Whether or not the mine had been examined that morning and this particular place marked dangerous is not disclosed in the report. Several others were injured, two of whom were thought to be dead when brought to the parting, but were resuscitated by patient work of more than half an hour. Soon after these men revived, it was found that three of the rescue party, who had rushed into the affected portion of the mine, were down from the effects of noxious gases. Again the pulmotors were brought into use and it was only through the efficient work of the men in charge that their lives were saved.
 
1913 Annual Coal Report12
Explosion at Eldorado Coal Mining Co.
      February 19, 1913, I received a message about 10:15 a.m. at Equality, Gallatin County, that an explosion had occurred at the above named mine at 7:20 a.m. I immediately notified the manager, Oscar Cartlidge, and Superintendent J. C. Duncan of the Benton Mine Rescue Station of the accident, then got a rig and drove through the country a distance of eight miles, and arrived at mine about 12:15 p.m., and found that four lives had been lost and three men badly injured, and were just bringing the last body up.
      The explosion occurred immediately after the last cage of men had descended for work, and was caused by ignition of accumulated gas at the face of the third and fourth west north. The explosion was confined to this portion of the mine and as a result only those working in that locality were in danger. Immediately after the explosion Superintendent Ginney organized a rescue party, having first sent out call for assistance. District Superintendent Bagwell of the O'Gara Coal Co., together with his mine managers and assistants from O'Gara Mines Nos. 8, 10 and 11, responded. As soon as Mr. Bagwell arrived on the scene he called the general office of the O'Gara Coal Co., at Harrisburg, and requested the regular rescue corps of the company, together with all the equipments, to be sent to the mine at once. This request was received at the office at 8:00 a.m., and at 8:45 the rescue corps, in charge of O'Gara Mine Inspector C. A. Horning and District Superintendent J. J. Morris arrived at the scene of disaster, the Big Four Railroad Company having furnished a special train to carry the entire party, which was made up of Mine Inspector C. A. Horning, Superintendent J. J. Morris, Superintendent W. H. Stricklin, Superintendent Richard Neeson, Mine Manager Frank Keesner, Robert Wright, R. F. Macklin, James Cook, James Pyre, Sherman Walters and Jake Ingram. Upon the arrival at the scene those In charge of the O'Gara Rescue Corps, co-operated with the mine management in organizing parties for going into the mine and recovering those who had not succeeded in escaping. Messrs. William Taylor and James Robinson, who were familiar with the workings of the mine and regularly certified rescue men, were equipped with Draeger helmets and went to the scene of the explosion. These two men were followed up by Messrs. Horning, Ginney, Morris, Bagwell and others with pulmotors, stretchers, etc. At 10:30 o'clock the first body was recovered. The other three were recovered soon thereafter. In the meantime, however, the two men who were severely burned had been carried out to the parting and at first they were both supposed to have succumbed to the effects of the explosion, but the pulmotors were immediately brought into use, and after patient efforts of over half an hour on each man, they were resuscitated. This work was ably assisted in by Superintendent Morris of the Saline County Coal Co. and his entire rescue corps, consisting of Charles Stahlbert, Walter Scott, Charles Tinsey, William Taylor, Charles Cathcart, Bertram Peak, William Schuman and James Johnson, who had been furnished with a special engine by the Big Four, and they arrived at the mine when their assistance was most needed. Soon after these two men who were injured had been resuscitated, it was found that three of the rescue party who had rashly rushed into the effected portion of the mine were down from the effects of noxious gases. Again the pulmotors were brought into use and it was only through the efficient work of the men in charge of the pulmotors that their lives were saved.
      The most heroic act of the occasion was performed by Mr. Thomas Harris of O'Gara No. 11 Mine, who was one of the party following the helmet men. He rushed into a part of the mine hot with noxious gases, and brought out the men who were afterwards resuscitated by the use of pulmotors. Had Mr. Harris not acted p romptly at this time, the list of fatalities would have been two greater. After the bodies had all been recovered, I took a party consisting of Oscar Cartlidge, manager of the Illinois Mine Rescue Station; J. C. Duncan, superintendent of the Benton Rescue Station; Bernard Cosgrove; James Schrader, county mine inspector of Saline County; Edward Langhron, county mine inspector of Franklin County, and mine officials, and descended into the mine to investigate the cause of the explosion; taking the main air course up the first west north to a point where the second west north is connected to the third west north by a pair of stub entries, and going through a brattice from the first to the second, found that the ventilating current was heavily charged with afterdamp, so decided to leave the mine and let it clear out until the following day. February 20th we descended and penetrated the territory of explosion and found several stoppings blown and doors deranged and some gas at the faces of same two entries, so returned out of mine, started repair work and restoring ventilation, and the mine resumed work February 24, 1913.
 
1913 Annual Coal Report12 - Fatal Accidents
      These four men lost their lives in the Eldorado Coal & Mining Company's Mine at Eldorado, Saline County, by an explosion of gas. They had just reached their working places when they came in contact with accumulated gas, which ignited and resulted in their deaths.
 
Chasen Cimonneti, miner, aged 19 years, single.
 
Joe Cinsetti,, miner, aged 20 years, single.
 
August Moretto,, miner, aged 22 years, single.
 
Alex. Vinnettie,, miner, aged 19 years, single.
 

Gas Explosion at Royalton
      A gas explosion occurred in the Franklin Coal and Coke Company's No. 1 mine at Royalton, Franklin County, Tuesday, October 27, 1914, about 7:25 a. m. Fifty-two men lost their lives. The coroner's inquest resulted in the following verdict in each case:
      "Deceased came to his death as the result of an explosion which occurred in the mine at about 7:25 a. m., October 27, A. D. 1914."
      There were 357 men in the mine (50 were yet in line on top, men being lowered at this starting time) when the explosion occurred. Twenty were killed and 32 died from afterdamp. Some 220 men were in the unaffected areas and were later conducted safely to the hoisting shaft. The explosion was limited to the northwest quarter of the mine although forces reached both shafts. While many had reached (all walked) their working places, others were still enroute on the return air haulage roads. Some 80 or 90 were still on or near the hoisting shaft (upcast air) bottom. These were the most recent to be lowered on that shaft's cages. Prompt reversal of the fan by the direction of the mine manager, who was still on the surface, saved many lives. There was no damage in either shaft or to the fan.
      Damage in the affected area was not very great even though coal dust had entered into the explosion. Some brattices and doors were wrecked and a few cars were derailed.
      Black powder was being used, this being one of the three mines in Franklin County still using black powder. The other 17 mines in the county were using permissible explosives. Many kegs had exploded, not all in the same place, since each pair of miners had their own limited supply. One theory receiving support of the superintendent and others was that the origin was ignition of a full keg by a miner as he opened the keg with a pick. Another theory receiving the support of many miners was the failure in closing some doors and the accumulation of gas in old works that a miner entered enroute to his work, causing ignition from his open light.
      The more plausible theory, the one supported by mine inspectors, mine manager and others, was the ignition by an open light of gas near the entry face of the 3 northwest off 2 west. There may have been an accumulation of gas at the faces of these entries, amounting to at least 1,000 cubic feet.
      This theory is somewhat substantiated by the State Mine Inspector's written opinion that the gas explosion was started by some one crossing the mine examiner's "danger mark" and igniting the gas in the 3 northwest entry.
      In a detailed Bureau of Mines report, Oscar Cartlidge, manager of the State of Illinois Rescue Stations Commission, stated his conclusions in part as follows:
      "This is the first large explosion in Illinois since the establishment of the State Mine Rescue Stations in 1910, but we believe the exploration of the mine and recovery of the dead in less than 24 hours after the explosion occurred justify the efforts put forth by the Mine Rescue Commission for the propagation throughout the State of mine rescue and first aid training.
      "We have demonstrated the fact to our own satisfaction that breathing apparatus worn by trained men is of great value in the exploration of the mine and the recovery of the dead after an explosion. It has been shown that the types of breathing apparatus used are practically safe when worn by experienced men and that long exploration trips to locate the living and the dead and ascertain the presence of fires, can be made in irrespirable air.
      "We also found that crude caustic soda can be used for rescue work with Fleuss apparatus, as our men used this absorbent exclusively.
      "We also learned that there were not enough safety and electric lamps at the average Illinois mine, and suggest that every mining man who goes to an explosion take with him all the safety lamps he can secure. We also learned that the reversal of the air current following an explosion is sometimes justified."
      The inspection and its report were made by J. W. Paul, mine examiner, H. I. Smith, assistant mine examiner, and G. T. Powell, foreman miner, for the U. S. Bureau of Mines. -- J E }
 
1915 Annual Coal Report13 - Fatal Accidents
 
Joe Antonnacci, aged 41 years, married with one child.
 
John Babich, aged 36 years, married with five children.
 
George Balsis, aged 35 years, single.
 
John Barclay, aged aged 20 years, single.
 
Pete Bardisono, aged 33 years, single.
 
Bardo Barta, aged 45 years, married.
 
Wm. Bartta, aged 30 years, single.
 
Charles Bellamy, aged 28 years, single.
 
Louis Benguenga, aged 36 years, married with two children.
 
Steve Bolinsky, aged 31 years, married with one child.
 
V. Bondi, aged 36 years, married with 2 children - 4 dependents.
 
Tony Bonzainai, aged 30 years, single.
 
Pete Cornelli, aged 38 years, married with one child.
 
George Dronovitch, aged 32 years, married.
 
M. Grachino, aged 30 years, single.
 
Joe Grovani, aged 29 years, single.
 
Russell Harris, aged 21 years, single.
 
Joe Havlik, aged 31 years, married.
 
George Holk, aged 26 years, single.
 
Alex Hollodanski, aged 23 years, married.
 
P. Holupki, no age given, single.
 
George Howery, aged 37 years, married.
 
Jim Johnson, aged 445 years, married.
 
Louis Juhis, aged 27 years, single.
 
John Kazar, aged 34 years, married with five children.
 
John Kerle aged 40 years, married with three children.
 
Harry Litkas, aged 35 years, married with six children.
 
Dominec Lorenti, aged 27 years, single.
 
Dom Lutastanski, aged 24 years, single.
 
Alex Marci, no age given, single.
 
B. Mengelis, aged 39 years, married with two children.
 
Philip Michitich, aged 42 years, married, with three children.
 
Adam Molosky, aged 34 years, married with two children.
 
Guy Mozzella, aged 32 years, married with four children.
 
Neal Mullen, aged 19 years, single.
 
Dominec Ogolini, aged 26 years, single.
 
Tony Ollosky, aged 45 years, single.
 
B. Orlento, aged 26 years, single.
 
Philip Parrot, aged 30 years, married with one child.
 
Charles Pattroni, aged 40 years, married with five children.
 
Tony Plusnik, aged 43 years, married with four children.
 
Mike Polkac, aged 30 years, married.
 
Lewis Shaksly, no age given, single.
 
Steve Shander, aged 38 years, married with one child.
 
A. Sholler, aged 40 years, married with five children.
 
Felix Sietric, aged 30 years, married.
 
Sam M. Smiddie, aged 55 years, married.
 
John Smith, aged 21 years, married.
 
Jack Torichi, aged 30 years, married.
 
M. Varga, aged 19 years, single.
 
W. D. Williams, aged 35 years, single.
 
Pete Young, aged 21 years, single.

Explosion at Panama No. 1
      An explosion occurred in the Shoal Creek Coal Company's Panama No. 1 mine in Montgomery County at 6:45 a. m. Monday, April 5, 1915, resulting in the death of eleven men, three by violence and burns, and eight by asphyxiation. Two others were revived by artificial respiration and two were covered with dust but escaped.
      The explosion occurred as the men were being lowered into the mine before time to start working. About 300 of the total of 500 workmen had already entered the mine. With the exception of the above mentioned and rescue parties, all were hoisted to the surface without mishap. Ten of the rescue party were overcome during rescue operations, but soon revived, the party working without oxygen breathing apparatus.
      Alleged causes:
      (1 ) A body of gas near the face of 7 E. or 8 E. entry was ignited by open light of the first man to reach this point. The body of gas was thought to have accumulated rather rapidly after the mine was examined, or the mine examiner marked the place safe in his book without making an examination. In assuming the former, it was believed that the accumulation was due either to a sudden liberation from a small fall or to a door being left open by the examiner.
      (2) One of the first men to enter the 7 E. was thought by some to have been carrying some detonators or explosives (permissible explosives were used at this mine) which were accidentally discharged, initiating a coal dust explosion.
      Coal dust was ignited. Great violence extended 1,000 feet from the faces. All violence was within 2,000 feet. Violence affected the 7-8 ES. entries and the stub entry off the 7-8 ES. but did not extend outby the mouth of the 7-8 ES. entries.
      The conclusion of H. I. Smith, J. R. Fleming and G. T. Powell, representatives of the U. S. Bureau of Mines, was that ignition was by a miner's open light near face of the 7 ES. entry, the gas having accumulated probably on account of insufficient ventilation or because a door near the face had been left open. Their conclusion included the recommendation that the accumulations of dry and inflammable dust be removed, to be followed by the application of rock dust, which should be so applied as to dislodge the dry coal dust from the roof, ribs and the gobs along the entries. An alternate recommendation was that water be used regularly to keep the dust allayed and damp at all times.
      According to the records of the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals, this is the first written recommendation for rock dusting within the State. -- J E J
 
1915 Annual Coal Report13 - Fatal Accidents
     
      April 5, 1915, an explosion occurred in the Shoal Creek Coal Company's mine, Panama, Montgomery County, which resulted in the death of eleven men.
The verdict of the coroner's jury in each case was:
      "Deceased came to his death on the 5th day of April, 1915, at or about the hour of 7 o'clock a. m., on Monday, 5th day of April, 1915, in the Shoal Creek Coal Company'smine No. 1, Panama, Illinois, from effects of an explosion and the afterdamp following same."
      The following shows the pertinent facts of these fatalities:
 
T. H. Burns, age 42, miner, American, married, widow, four children, five dependents.
 
John Fritz, age 45, miner, Italian, married, widow, six children, six dependents.
 
Thomas Fritz, age 26, miner, Italian, married, widow, two children, three dependents.
 
Joe Mihlich, age 28, miner, Italian, married, widow, one child, two dependents.
 
Joseph Renner, age 28, miner, Hungarian, married, widow, two children, three dependents.
 
Andrew Seban, age 32, miner, Italian, married, widow, three children, four dependents.
 
Joe Stella, age 32, miner, Italian, single.
 
Louis Stella, age 40, miner, Italian, single.
 
Peter Stella, age 33. miner, Italian, single.
 
Baptisto Tavan, age 34, miner, Italian, single.
 
Dave Thomas, age 27, miner, American, married, widow, one child, two dependents.
 
See : Panama Coal Miner Memorial

Explosion at United Coal Company Mine No. 1
      On July 27, 1915, an explosion at the United Coal Mining Company No. 1 mine, Christopher, Franklin County, killed eight men.
      The origin of explosion was the ignition of gas in old works, by a miner's carbide open light. Evidently a door had been left open. The area for many acres had been worked out and had not yet caved well. There was vast room for expansion of force. This resulted in small explosion pressure being generated, thus lessening propagation by limiting the increase in temperature. Such explosions are not severe in their wreckage at their origins.
      The area also was a thick "blue band" area. This was an average thickness of eight inches of shale in the coal seam some eighteen inches from the floor of this nine-foot thick coal seam. This shale, when loosened, was thrown back before coal above it was brought down.
      This practice of hand-shoveling this blasted shale back into the gob gave a high ash dust content over the entire section, similar to the rock dusting of a mine floor, a part of the scheme of rock dusting that became the practice in 1918 by the Old Ben Coal Corporation, the owner of this and eight other mines in Franklin County. Some of the finer ash dust, of course, settled higher up among the timbers and on coal ribs, but very small in percentage as compared with the floor.
      Coal dust propagation therefore added but little, if any, to the gas explosion, and the explosion was limited to the area of that one section.
 
1916 Annual Coal Report15 - Fatal Accidents
      These men who were employed in No. 1 mine of the United Coal Mining Company, Christopher, Franklin County, were killed by an explosion of gas on July 27, 1915.
 
Mike Carsega, of Christopher, miner, age 25 years, single.
 
Alphose Dufour, of Christopher, miner, age 20 years, single.
 
Eiteure Dufour, of Christopher, miner, age 55 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
George Genitias, of Christopher, miner, age 45 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Frank Gramoski, of Christopher, miner, age 45 years, married. He leaves a widow and five children.
 
John Parks, of Christopher, miner, age 55 years, single.
 
Everett Swafford, of Christopher, miner, age 45 years, married. He leaves a widow and four children.
 
Julius Takaco, of Christopher, miner, age 38 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
      and on the following day, July 28, 1915 :
 
William Good, of DeSoto, miner, age 55 years, married, was killed by a gas explosion in the United Coal Mining Company's No. 1 mine, Christopher, Franklin County. He leaves a widow and one child.

Fire
      December 8, 1916, a fire broke out in Johnston City Coal Company's mine, Johnston City, Williamson County, in which three men lost their lives by being overcome by fumes and smoke. Without the knowledge of the others working on the fire, they left on the return air towards the shaft bottom and were asphyxiated.
 
1917 Annual Coal Report14 - Fatal Accidents
      These men were killed by being overcome by fumes and smoke from a fire in the mine of Johnston City Coal Company, Johnston City, Williamson County.
 
Floyd Adamson, laborer, age 23 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
Cipole Karns (Karus), laborer, age 39 years, married, leaves a widow and five children.
 
Samuel Long, laborer, age 34 years, married, leaves a widow and two children.

Gas Explosion
      May 12, 1917, an explosion of gas in Saline County Coal Company's Mine No. 6, Grayson, Saline County, killed four men. This was on the night shift and, fortunately, only a few men were in the mine. One was the day examiner who was quite some distance from the explosion origin. His small dog, which always accompanied him on his examinations, was instantly killed also.
      The others were gang men who were driving development entries and were at the explosion origin.
 
1917 Annual Coal Report14 - Fatal Accidents
 
Walter Calhoun, mine examiner, age 30 years, married.
 
Joseph B. Easton, miner, age 23 years, married.
 
Walter Easton, miner, age 17 years, single.
 
Claude Humphrey, miner, age 28 years, married.

Gas Explosion
Explosion at W. P. Rend Mine No. 2
Weaver, Williamson County


      An explosion occurred in the W. P. Rend Mine No. 2, about three miles north of Herrin, June 2, 1917, killing nine men.
      This was a very wet mine. The night shift was chiefly a material supply shift although other essential work was done, such as some coal preparation at occasional working faces, and the pumping of water.
      On the night of the explosion, a night shift crew was salvaging approximately 100 yards of unused entry track from a worked-out panel, the entrance to which was badly caved and partly choked with fallen rock. Near the entrance on the used haulage road was a door to force air into the area being salvaged.
      The crew was at work, taking up the track, when the explosion occurred. Evidently the door had been left open and the gas backed from more interior regions to the location where the men were working. It was a very strong gas explosion, blowing out the door and knocking out timbers. Falls of rock occurred at once. One of these pinned a victim in an erect position against a wall. That body was the last to be found, the rock fall being a foot or two higher than the man's head.
      Coal dust added but little to the explosion force because of the dampness. Most of the explosive force was in the immediate vicinity, although force was felt by other members of the night shift more than half a mile away.
      The records showed that an inspection had been made for gas and the working area was safe. Open lights were used. The crew had a gas testing safety lamp.
 
1917 Annual Coal Report14 - Fatal Accidents
      June 2, 1917, an explosion of gas occurred in the W. P. Rend Coal & Coke Company's mine, Herrin, Williamson County, in which nine men lost their lives. Their names are as follows:
 
Ezra Adams, age 38 years, laborer, married, leaves a widow.
 
John Gassage, age 30 years, laborer, single.
 
J. S. Good, age 32 years, laborer, married, leaves a widow.
 
Amos Mezo, age 35 years, laborer, married, leaves a widow and three children.
 
Otis Reynolds, age 20 years, laborer, single; Ira Sanders, age 35 years, night boss, married, leaves a widow.
 
Charles Rice, age 38 years, laborer, married, leaves widow and five children.
 
Guy Vickery, age 25 years, laborer, single.
 
Roy Weathere, age 19 years, laborer, single.

Explosion
Report of the Explosion occurring at Mine No. 18 of the
By-Products Coke Corporation on July 26, 1917
 
Hon. Evan D. Johns, Director, Department Mines and Minerals:
      The explosion originated on the fifth north panel entry first west south at room No. 1, while the motor trip of empty cars was passing into the panel. The gas was ignited either bv the light of the motorman or triprider, or by the sparking of the trolley wheel against the trolley wire hangers. The explosion traveled out in the opposite direction to the travel of the motor trip. The motorman and triprider were burned but slightly; the motorman was merely singed. The trapper boy was located directly in the path of the explosion at the intersection of the fifth north panel and the first west south entry about 120 feet from the explosion origin. He was severely burned, and died the same night. A road cleaner was working about 200 feet from the trapper boy and he was burned severely, though probably not fatally.
      The zone of explosion is very limited, extending to room No. 3 on the fifth north panel and about 250 feet outby from the intersection of the entries on the first west entry. All stoppings in the vicinity are of wood, but none of these were damaged. The only damage done to the ventilation was the breaking of the top hinge of the door between the first and second west south entries at the fifth north.
      The intersection of the fifth and sixth north panels and the first west entry is on a knoll; the panels dipping on a steep grade towards the faces and the first west south dipping outby from the intersection. The haulage roads throughout the vicinity are covered with motor sand and that was an important factor in localizing the explosion. Twenty men were at work in the fifth and sixth panels and it is fortunate that the explosion did not travel that way. Coal dust entered into the explosion, but the presence of sand evidently retarded its propagation farther than 250 feet along the first west south entry. One reason that the explosion did not travel down the panels is due probably to the dip towards their faces.
      The gas was produced by the squeezing of the upper strata on the third and fourth north panels and the fifth north panel rooms. Evidence of this squeezing has been seen for several months. Room No. 1, where the explosion originated, has been caved for some time. Extra examiners were employed to examine for gaseous conditions, but it is doubted that they examined the top of fall in room No. 1 on this day. It is evident
 
1918 Annual Coal Report15 - Fatal Accidents
      July 26, 1917, Alexander Vansack, trapper, age 17 years, single, was killed by an explosion of gas in mine No. 18 of the By-Products Coke Corporation, West Frankfort.

Explosion in Old Ben Coal Corporation's Mine No. 11
By John E. Jones
Safety Engineer, Old Ben Coal Corporation
 
      November 29, 1917, an explosion of gas and coal dust in Old Ben Coal Corporation's Mine No. 11, Christopher, Franklin County, killed 17 men.
      This was Thanksgiving night and only about 25% of the night shift men were at work. A worker took a motor to the main east entries to ride most of the way to start a pump. Evidently he unknowingly passed an open door as he parked the motor. As he continued his journey up a hill (a very steep hill upward from his parked motor and the electric switch, and then down) on foot with his naked light on his head and his gas testing lamp in his hand, to examine the entry faces before applying the electric power, the gas was ignited as he was enroute up the hill. The gas had unknowingly collected there due to the door being left open during that holiday.
      It was a very dry mine and coal dust propagated the explosion into every section and up both shafts with a great force. The escapement stairway of steel was a tangled mass at its bottom 65 feet. Both cages in the hoisting shaft were wrecked. The automatic explosion doors at the fan worked successfully and there was early resumption of air flow. The worker igniting the gas was the only one who knew of the explosion, as he fell down in an effort to avoid the flame. He must have died in a few seconds, but the other 16 were killed instantly. Attempted rescue work ceased on the third day on account of the several fires encountered and the several accumulations of gas because of the almost complete wreckage of overcasts and stoppings. The four last bodies had not yet been found but it was certain those men could not be alive after such great violence or in such high afterdamp content. We were compelled to seal the entire mine at once, and did so around both shaft bottoms largely because of several feet of loose "fill" in the mine yard and around the shaft top.
      In 49 days analyses of gas behind the seals showed that fires were extinguished. The seals were opened and the bodies at once found and recovered by means of oxygen apparatus. Reparation work was then begun at once.
      Six hundred men were employed on the day shift, which added to the seriousness of such explosion hazards. Mr. D. W. Buchanan, president of the company, and I had often discussed rock dusting and closed lights to lessen such hazards, when I was State mine inspector. He employed me as his safety engineer during that work. Our first act was a request to the U. S. Bureau of Mines for thorough inspection of our hazards and their recommendations for correction.
      The Old Ben Mine No. 11 explosion is the explosion that, figuratively, was heard all over the coal mining world. Mr. Buchanan and I fully appreciated that had closed lights been used, the gas would not have been lit with an open light; also that had the mine been rock dusted, the explosion would not have propagated. The Bureau of Mines was consulted and agreed to study, analyze and give detailed report upon any mine the company chose in the county, upon explosion hazards, and to recommend corrections. Our Mine No. 10, adjacent to No. 11 and having similar conditions, was chosen. The Bureau's engineers worked there for several weeks but, before their completion and report, we had begun with closed lights and rock dusting. The introduction of closed lights developed into serious local labor antagonism. The electric battery lamp was nick-named "Bug Light", and so was I. It was quite deserving then for our candle power was very low, only two. Since then the light has gradually improved to over 100 candle power and, I think, electric cap lamps are now unanimously accepted.
      The beginning of rock dusting was difficult, too. We began with scraping dust off the highways. Those were horse and buggy days, largely. That dust became wet at once in the mine. Then we tried lime rock dust sweepings from quarry buildings. That was too coarse. Mr. Buchanan then decided to install a mill, after learning our roof shale was a good, though expensive, source for shale dust. Rock dust mills, however, had not yet evolved. He bought a hammer mill to grind the shale lumps into 1½ inch screenings and a flour ball-mill to grind the screenings into dust, 92% through 255 mesh. This was very good, since the Bureau's requirements were 100% through 150 and 75% through 200 mesh. That mill cost $40,000.00 and that shale dust was used by us and a few of our neighbors for nearly ten years, when lime rock dust became available in paper bags. Very early in that period we supplied the Bureau with five tons of our Mine No. 10 coal and ten tons of shale dust.
      Immediately after the tests at the Experimental mine, demonstrations there were made before a large group of representatives from our coal field, consisting of miners, bosses, the State inspection department, operators, and members of the Old Ben Coal Corporation. The demonstration seemed conclusive as to the value of shale dusting, but Old Ben trod the path of development and application somewhat alone for a few more years after that demonstration in 1918.
      Evan D. John, the director, State inspectors, State rescue teams, Federal and State rescue cars, and many mining men of the region were on hand before hoisting was improvised.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report15
Explosion In Mines.
      The following is a verbatim report of an explosion at Old Ben Coal Corporation's No. 11 mine:
To the Honorable State Mining Board of Illinois.
      Gentlemen: We, the undersigned inspectors having been detailed to make an investigation as to the cause and origin of the explosion that occurred at the old Ben Coal Corporation's No. 11 mine at Christopher on November 29, 1917, by which seventeen men lost their lives, beg to submit to your honorable board the following report:
      At 10:30 p. m. on November 29, 1917, a call was sent out from Old Ben Coal Corporation that an explosion had occurred at No. 11 mine at Christopher. The State Inspector for that district sent out a call for assistance and at once arranged with the railroad company for an engine to take the rescue car from Benton to the scene of the explosion arriving about midnight.
      It was found that the fan was not damaged and was still running and the top of the air shaft was covered with boards where the explosion doors had been blown off, and the air was still going down the air shaft and up the hoisting shaft and that there were seventeen men below.
      The air shaft was fitted with cage hoists and a stairway, the cage was out of commission and blocked at the bottom by debris; this consisted of about 140 feet of curbing, guides, concrete, partition, steel buntings and steel stairways.
      The rope of the hoisting cage was disconnected from the hoisting drum and a bucket was slung into the shaft; after making five trips down the air shaft it was decided that it was impossible to get into the mine by way of that shaft.
      It was then decided to go to the hoisting shaft and ascertain what could be done there. It was then found that one cage was blocked in the hoisting shaft while the other was blown up into the tipple and badly wrecked. A temporary sheave wheel was fixed over the hoisting shaft and a bucket was slung; after reaching the bottom of the hoisting shaft a fire was located and extinguished on the northwest side of the cage room; after making four trips to the bottom it was found that the air was coming direct from the air shaft to the hoisting shaft. It was then concluded that in all probability the men were all dead, and after the guides had been examined and found all right at one side, it was decided to disconnect the rope from the blocked cage and erect a temporary cage for the other side. It was then about 10:30 a. m., November 30, 1917.
      After the cage was ready a party went down and investigated conditions around the cage room, machine shop and as far as the mouth of the first northwest entry.
      It was found that the air was charged with afterdamp to a dangerous degree. It was then decided that it would be safer and quicker to reverse the ventilation making the hoisting shaft the down cast and the air shaft the upcast.
      Then the work of getting material down and building brattices, all of which had been blown out, was commenced. Several teams were organized from different parts of the district and a great number of mining men from all parts of the country responded freely and rendered valuable and heroic assistance. A careful search for the bodies was then commenced, and in this search the helmet teams are deserving of the very highest praise. No one except those experienced in such matters can form anything like an adequate conception of the high morale, as well as physical courage, it requires to enable a man to don a helmet and go into that deadly atmosphere and witness all the horrors as well as face the dangers and know that he will have to do it time after time. These men stood nobly to their task and proved their right to rank amongst men who dare do their duty despite dangers and difficulties and they certainly merit the approval of the community.
      The position of superintendent and mine manager immediately after an explosion is indescribably trying, yet, as demonstrated at Old Ben Mine No. 11, they may always count upon the sympathy and willing help of neighboring superintendents, mine managers, rescue teams, mine inspectors and the Department of Mines and Minerals, in the ardorous work of rescue and recovery of the mine.
      Mr. Evan D. John, Director of the Department of Mines and Minerals, arrived at the mine immediately after the explosion and taken place and assisted in work of recovering and rescuing those in the mine. He brought to bear on the calamity, the skill and experience of a lifetime.
      The Rescue Car of the Federal Bureau of Mines was on the ground through out the work done, and valuable assistance was given by the members of the Federal Bureau of Mines in aiding in rescue work.
      The teams which took an active part are the following:
      Benton team; Herrin team; Duquoin team; Orion team; Dewmaine team; Carterville team.
      Bodies Nos. 1 and 2 were found in the machine shop; No. 3 and 4 were found on main east line close to run-around. Nos. 5, 6 and 7 were found near No. 5 room on 3d east panel on 3d northwest. Nos. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 were found on parting on first northeast. No. 13 body, that of Wm. Webb, the pumpman, was found about 142 feet back from face of main east entry. During this time several fires had been encountered and extinguished, but on December 3 a serious fire broke out in the first northeast, and on account of the large amount of gas in the mine and the liability of another explosion it was decided at once to seal off all the entries around the shaft and extinguish the fires before the other four bodies could possibly be recovered.
      And in doing this several factors had to be taken into consideration,
viz: The possibility of sealing off the fires and yet make it possible to continue the repair work in the shafts, as well as around the shaft bottoms and to repair the main air crossings. To do this, it was found necessary to put in 13 stoppings in all; 1 direct south of shaft; 2 in main and back east; 2 in first and second southeast; 2 in first and second northeast; 2 in main and back west; 2 in first and second southwest; 2 in first and second northwest.
      It is obvious that by putting these stoppings well inside it accomplished all that was required, viz: To repair the shafts and round the bottom; maintain the ventilation around this area; subdued the fires and also rendered the breaking of the seals and the recovery of the mine a comparatively easy matter.
      It was not until January 16, 1918, that it was found it would be safe to open up the seals, which was done and the work of recovering the bodies of the other men was commenced. On the night of January 17, 1918, three more bodies, Nos. 14, 15 and 16, were found in the first crosscut in No. 5 room off: fourth east off of third northwest.
      The body of the other man. No. 17, was found on the parting behind some cars on the first northeast on January 29, 1918.
      It was not until January 31 and February 1, 1918, that we could commence with our investigation and could then only take those districts where the ventilation had been sufficiently restored to permit us to enter. The districts are dealt with here in the order in which we took them.
      Starting point: Fourth southeast at mouth of fourth south on main east entry air crossing was blown out entirely and position of debris showed that force had been exerted from north to south inside cross cut between main and back east entries, and opposite fourth northeast found soot deposits on roof and sides and indications of the coal being slightly calcined and the sides striated; also showing that force had traveled from north to south at second cross cut east of fourth south; a trolley wire hanger was bent towards the west; at 24 feet east of ninth cross cut we found one plate of the motor cover; at 30 feet we found one more and at 12 feet east of the 11th cross-cut on main entry another part of the motor cover was found; motor was found at 12th cross-cut east of fourth south and all indication on the motor showed that it had been struck with terrific force on the east end, showing force traveling west.
      The door at the fifth north off main east was blown 10 feet south, but not entirely broken up, indicating that the door must have been open before the explosion.
      The sides and roof at the mouth of the fifth and sixth southeast were coked distinctly and showed signs of intense heat; there was no sign of coking on main east entry at this point. At nineteenth cross cut, or cut off between main and back east entries, a canvas door stretched on a wooden frame was found off the hinges, but not destroyed, showing that it must have been open at the time of the explosion or so light a structure would have been shattered. The pumpman's body was found six feet east of the 19th cross cut and his cap and lamp was found 12 feet further east, the cap was partly burned.
      At the 19th cross cut the entry makes a rise east of about 12 per cent and a total rise of about 10 feet; midway between 20th and 21st cross cut a miners box was found and the powder inside was burned, but the outside of box showed no signs of burning. This was permissible explosives, nitrocompound. From midway between 20th and 21st cross cuts the entry dips east at about 12 per cent and a total dip of about 10 feet; there was considerable coking on the main east entry at 21st cross cut; also in the cross cut Itself and on the back east entry.
      Investigation continued on February 15, 1918. All indications on the 3d northwest showed the force to be traveling from north to south on the motor parting, a long trip of cars were standing, several of which had been thrown off the track.
      Indications showed that the force of the explosion on the third east panel off the third northwest was from west to east. A motor standing at mouth of No. 2 room on third east off third northwest was badly wrecked on west end of motor at this point there was heavy deposits of soot. On third and fourth panel west off fourth northwest there was much soot deposited and much coking on roof and sides showing intense heat.
      Investigation continued February 16, 1918.
      In the first and second west panel off the third southeast the force of the explosion was from east to west and all the stoppings in cross cuts were blown north. On the third and fourth southeast entries the force was from north to south. The force of the explosion on the first and second east and third and fourth east panels off fourth southeast was most generally from east to west.
      A most peculiar feature about the first and second southeast showed the force to have traveled from the face of both these entries, stoppings in cross cuts were blown both ways, yet on the third and fourth southeast they were nearly all blown south.
      The force on the third and fourth west panel off the third northeast had traveled from east to west. The force on the first and second northeast was north and on the third and fourth west panel off first northeast it was west The violence ceased at the third cross cut north of the sixth west panel on first northeast.
      At a point on the first northeast opposite the fourth cross cut north of the sixth west panel some grading had been done, and the fire clay had been cut through for a distance of 100 feet with an average thickness of 1 foot 6 inches.
      And from this point going north the entry was covered with a large amount of sand. There was quite a grade against the load and sand had been used and the used sand had been constantly thrown to the sides and allowed to accumulate for a distance of 400 feet.
      Beyond this point going north the force of the explosion ceased and all doors and stoppings going towards the face of the first and second northeast were still intact; the distance from the sand to the face of the first and second northeast entries is about 1,400 feet. We understand that the ventilation was good in these entries before the explosion.
      Note. -- The roadways and sides of roads on the fifth and sixth east panels off the first northwest were sandy for a distance ol" 300 feet from and the first northwest an evidence of violence was observed on these entries.
      Note. -- There can exist in the minds of experienced men no doubt as to the reason the explosion did not travel into those entries where the track and sides of roadway was covered with sand, as it was a dust explosion and the fine gritty particles of sand and fire clay would be thrown into the air; the flame coming in contact with this cloud of incombustible dust would retard and would of course expand and having no fine coal dust to feed upon, it would be cooled below the temperature necessary to continue its force and so would exhaust itself.
      This incident gives us a vivid illustration of the effectiveness of shale dust or sand to stop an explosion or to localize one, should one occur in any district.
      The force of the explosion on the main west entries was from east to west and all stoppings were blown north except a few near the face of west entries.
      Note. -- There was no sand used on this entry, the stoppings near the face of main west were blown south. . The face of the fifth and sixth also seventh and eighth northwest also fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth southwest, as well as the face of the main west entries showed signs of coking and heavy soot deposits.
      Sunday, February 17, 1918.
      In the first and second northwest all indications pointed to the fact that the explosion had traveled through the panels from east to west and had crossed the first and second northwest and on west had crossed the third and fourth northwest still going west. There was abundant evidence that as the explosion had crossed the first and second northwest it had expanded and showed indications of having traveled both north and south.
      Monday, February 18, 1918. The same condition was observed at the third and fourth northwest.
      And these same conditions prevailed on the south side of the main side of the main west both on the first and second southeast and third and fourth southwest.
      The same conditions were observed on the first and second southeast of the explosion having traveled through the panels from east to west; especially was this clearly indicated at first and second east panel off first and second southeast, also at third and fourth east panel off first and second southeast.
      One very significant feature of this explosion and one that indicates the terrific force as well as showing the high velocity of the explosion, shows the terrible volume of flame when confined to one path; the dust traveling with the blast had actually polished the roof and sides just in the same manner that a sand blast will polish anything.
      We found that men had been loading dust on the main east, those numbered 3 and 4, and on first northeast at motor parting, men whose bodies were found there and numbered 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 17.
      We also obtained evidence that shows that the pumpman was talking through the telephone at the bottom of the shaft to the engineer some 7½ or 8 minutes before the explosion.
      Also we are firmly convinced that the door at the fifth northeast and also the canvas door spoken of further east had been open, thus short circuiting the air and allowing gas to accumulate in the main east entries.
      The pumpman took the big motor from the shaft bottom and ran into the main east; stopped his motor at the pump and evidently walked from there to go to the valve in the main east and Ignited the gas at the high point mentioned -- the position of his body indicates this. In taking the motor in he had no doubt raised considerable fine dust and put it in suspension in the air as he must have been running at a high speed and against the air this added to the dust already in suspension in the air, from the point where men were loading dust.
      Then the concussion of the exploding gas would put more dust in suspension and the flame of the gas explosion projected into this dust laden atmosphere at a high velocity and intensely not produced what in our opinion was probably the most terrific explosion in the history of coal mining in Southern Illinois.
      After careful observation we have arrived at the conclusion that this was a typical coal dust explosion caused by the pumpman having ignited some gas in main east entry where it had accumulated, in consequence of the door being left open as already stated, and in doing so we paid due regard to all the important factors that determine the character of a dust explosion. Viz:
      1. The physical character of the dust -- its fineness, inflammability and porosity and its percentage of volatile matter.
      2. The free suspension of dust in the air.
      3. The temperature and hygrometric conditions of the atmosphere.
      4. The condition of the mine with respect to dust and moisture.
      Note -- 1. So far as could be determined the dust was fine, inflammable and flocculent.
      2. Dust was also freely suspended in the air.
      3. It is well known that the atmosphere conditions were suitable as we had a cold wave coming over, this would help to absorb the moisture from the dust.
      4. There was little moisture and large quantities of dust in the mine .
      To explain the peculiar freaks of this explosion in apparently traveling in different directions and actually to have traveled back along its own path.
      It is only necessary to mention that under favorable conditions in a dust explosion one pound of this fine inflammable dust suspended in the air and subjected to the flame of an explosion of gas would produce a volume of carbon mon-oxcide (CO.) equal to 31.5 cubic feet measured at a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and an atmospheric pressure of 14.7 pounds per square inch and that this again disseminated in the air would produce an explosive mixture equal to 2,440 cubic feet at its maximum.
      It must also be remembered that any carbon dioxcide (CO.) formed by an explosion m an excess of air may be again reduced by the intense heat in contact with unburned incandescent carbon dust to carbon mon-oxcide. Thus continuing and extending the explosive range. This to a certain extent accounts for the persistency of a coal dust explosion for wherever the explosion finds a place to expand it will do so, and its velocity is then lowered, the heated carbon mon-oxcide CO in the trail would draw a supply of oxygen from the rooms or increased would area and again explode and travel back along its own path, this we found from the evidence actually had happened more than once.
      In determining whether an explosion was a purely gas explosion or a gas or dust explosion it must be remembered that in a gas explosion it can only extend as far as the amount of gas exploded can expand, and that marsh gas explosion may be extinguished by an atmosphere containing 10 per cent of carbon dioxcide (CO 2) while It requires an atmosphere containing 24 per cent of carbon dioxcide to extinguish the flame of exploding carbon mon-oxcide (CO.)
      It must also be remembered that the afterdamp of a dust explosion almost in- variably contains much carbon mon-oxcide (CO.) which owing to its wide explosive rmange is not as liable to be extinguished by the expansion and cooling of the eases more open workings as marsh gas is.
      This accounts for the phenomenon of what is termed the recoil or return flame of a dust explosion.
      As the flrst explosive blast sweeps through an entry it leaves behind it a trail of hot and generally inflammable gases consisting chiefly of carbon mon-oxcide (CO.) and nitrogen. The immediate cooling of these hot gases due to expansion causes a depression or fall of pressure in the entry and as a consequence air rushes out from the rooms or other workings.
      Thus a fresh supply of oxygen is furnished and the flame having been arrested in Its advance by the increasing effect of the depression behind or by its own expansion and cooling starts to turn back on its own trail, this second burning may be less rapid and violent but is generally hotter than the first blast.
      In conclusion we fully realize that we cannot too strongly deprecate or condemn the action of those responsible for allowing the dust to accumulate in this mine to such an extent as to become a menace to the health and lives of workmen and also a source of danger to the property
      And having regard to all the facts we are fully persuaded that in mines known to generate fire damp (CH.4) some definite system of examination should be adopted and maintained, so that the workings would be examined by a competent man after an idle day or a holiday before the night crew were allowed to go.
      Had this been done in this instance those open doors, referred to, would have been noticed, and the accumulation of gas in the main east would have been detected and dealt with and seventeen human lives would have been saved to their famlies and to the country.
(Signed)       Joseph C. Thompson,     
State Inspector, Tenth District.
Frank Rosbottom,     
State Inspector, Ninth District.
T. C. Wright,     
State Inspector, Eighth District.
H. T. Bannister,     
State Inspector, Twelfth District.
James Taylor,     
Mining Investigator.
1918 Annual Coal Report15 - Fatal Accidents
      November 29, 1917, an explosion at No. 11 mine of the Old Ben Coal Corporation, Christopher, killed 17 men, whose names are as follows:
 
J. W. Beamer, electrician, age 50 years, married, leaves widow and three children.
 
Warren Beamerr, electrician, age 16 years, single.
 
W. T. Clark, laborer, age 45 years, married, leaves widow and one child.
 
Warren Davis, laborer, age 23 years, single.
 
D. J. Jones, laborer, age 30 years, single.
 
Ed. Keller, miner, age 35 years, married, leaves widow and one child.
 
Phill Kern, motorman, age 25 years, single.
 
Cal Leigh, laborer, age 25 years, married, leaves widow and one child.
 
D. Medders, laborer, age 25 years, single.
 
Bert Naylor, laborer, age 18 years, single.
 
O. Short, laborer, age 25 years, married, leaves widow and one child.
 
John Stanko, miner, age 21 years, single; W. J. Roth, laborer, age 55 years, married, leaves widow;
 
Alfred Teffertiller, laborer, age not given, married, leaves widow and two children.
 
Rex Thompson, miner, age 30 years, married, leaves widow and one child.
 
Harvey Turner, miner, age 35 years, single.
 
Wm. Webb, pumpman, age 45 years, married, leaves widow and two children.

Explosion at Bell & Zoller Coal Comapany Mine
      On the morning of December 5, 1917, we were notified of a slight explosion causing three deaths at the Bell & Zoller Coal Company mine located at Zeigler, Franklin County. In company with Mr. John O'Rourke, county mine inspector for Franklin County, John E. Jones, safety engineer for the Old Ben Coal Corporation, and Mr. William B. Plank of the Federal Bureau of Mines, we arrived at Zeigler about 12:00 o'clock noon. We were informed that the mine manager and pit committee had gone to the edge of the old works on the third and fourth right off the fourth east south and, from statements made, learned that some gas had been ignited.
      We went into the mine and along the main entry, when we were met by two men coming toward the bottom, who had been badly burned by a second explosion, in the course of an investigation made by them at the place where the gas had been ignited the first time. We concluded that the gas had been ignited the second time either by the flame of a naked light or a damaged safety lamp. From one of these explosions a fire had been started in the old works. We decided that the best thing to do was to build stoppings and seal off this pair of entries, and had the work well in hand when the third explosion came, about 4:00 o'clock p. m. The flame came out into the entries where the seals were being built, and the heat was so intense that thirteen men were burned, of whom three died.
      After the third explosion, all of the men who were in the mine went to the surface and a consultation was held. A decision was reached that we would let the mine stand until the next morning and, if no other explosion occurred, we would go down again and attempt to seal off the territory in which the fire was located.
      The next morning about 7:40 a. m., the fourth explosion occurred.
      After the fourth explosion, a consultation was held by those present and it was decided that the only thing that could be done was to seal the top of both shafts, which was accomplished in as short a period of time as possible and in a manner that was entirely satisfactory. -- Frank Rosbottom, State Mine Inspector.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report15 - Fatal Accidents
 
December 10, 1917, Walland Azel, miner, age 45 years, single, died from burns received in an explosion December 5, in Bell & Zoller Coal Company's mine.
 
December 12, 1917, Wm. Semanski, miner, age 36 years, single, died from burns in an explosion December 5, in Bell & Zoller Coal Company's mine.
 
December 17, 1917, W. T. Edwards, miner, age 40 years, married, died from burns in an explosion December 5, in Bell & Zoller Coal Company's mine. He leaves a widow and two children.

Explosion
      February 22, 1918, an explosion of coal dust from blasting "dead" holes in Citizens Coal Company's "A" mine, Springfield, Sangamon County, killed four men. These men were working night shift, and about 4:00 o'clock a. m. went into a room to place a car on the track and to fire three shots that had been left by the shot firers. They completed this work and had gone about 1,000 feet in the entry when the shots exploded, causing the explosion of dust.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report 15
Explosion
      An explosion occurred February 22, 1918, in the Citizens Coal Company's mine A, located two miles southwest of Springfield, in which four men lost their lives; the following facts were secured:
      An examination of the shot firers' daily record book showed that for February 22, 1918, twenty shots had been fired in the southwest dip section, and 28 shots in the south section, by George Carrigan and Sam Burris, shot firers for those sections of the mine; in the remaining section of the mine 218 shots had been fired and reported O. K. by J. F. and W. Flinn, the regular shot firers. There was no record made of the three shots that had not been fired in room No. 5 off the 2nd South offset entry. J. F. and W. Flin told the second hoisting engineer to inform the night boss that a car of coal was off the track in Ward's room, the last one on the entry, and for him to fire the three shots which had been left in the room.
      William Bohalds, the assistant mine manager, stated that John McFall, the former mine manager, had given general instructions to the night boss to fire all shots that had not been fired by the shot firers. This method of firing shots has evidently been the prevailing custom at this mine for some time.
      There were fifteen men in the mine when these shots were fired; this is in violation of section 4, Shot Firing Act.
      In the main east on the north side of hoisting shaft were indications that mine track had been relaid and cleaned for 600 of the 1,400 feet on entry from the shaft bottom to the 1st and 2d right hand south entries; the remaining distance (800 ft.) was covered with dirt, slate and fine dry coal dust.
      Ernst Cox' body was found near the mouth of the 1st right hand south entry, that of Thomas Reilly and Walter Whitchels was found near together at a point 70 feet south of the east entry frogpoint, while Ray Miner's body was found in No. 3 room neck, off the 2d south entry offset, a distance of 110 feet from the main east entry frogpoint.
      Room No. 5 off the 2d south entry offset is where the shots were fired. The room is being turned and has extended in a distance of 24 feet from the entry. The neck is 13 feet in width, and 9 feet is the distance at which it commences to widen to a width varying from 15 to 21 feet.
      Shot No. 1 had been drilled to an angle of 45 degrees toward the left hand side or rib of the room, and 4 feet 8 inches "dead"; this shot blowed the tamping but no coal. Shot No. 2 was a very short hole 12 inches from the roof and 14 inches "dead," being the end of a hole previously fired, and had no part in causing the explosion. No. 3 was at an angle of about 30 degrees to the right hand rib and 4½ feet in the solid coal. In front of this coal there was bottom coal left which varied in thickness from 12 inches to 2 feet, and extended along the face for a distance of 9 feet 8 inches, and 5 feet 8 inches back from the face. Shot No. 4 had blown the top and left no indication of being a dead hole, this shot was a depending shot for No. 3.
      The car off the track in this room had been removed to the entry, and placed a few feet north of the mouth of room No. 5, the width of the entry where car was standing was 12 feet 9 inches and the height 5 feet. The height of car and coal was 4 feet 5 inches, and the width at the top was 5 feet, which left a space of only 26 square feet in the entry at this point.
      All of the workings in this section are tight ended and new work.
      At the face of the 1st and 2d south entries was found a number of unlawful drill holes which had been fired by the regular shot firers.
      All that section in 1st and 2d south off the main east is in an unlawful and dusty condition.
      In room No. 3 off No. 1 south offset evidence showed that dust had been unloaded along the track, and it was in this room that the most violent results of the explosion were seen.
      The explosion of dust caused by the windy shots, destroyed the slack and dirt stoppings in eight crosscuts, throwing the material to the west. These crosscuts had been built with unlawful material.
      The direction of the force of the explosion was north and west.
      The south entries were exceedingly dusty and no indications that the roadways had been sprinkled or cleaned for years; the dust and dirt had been placed on each side of the track, and in places it was but a few inches from the roof of the entry.
      It is recommended that this company be required to place the mine in a safe and lawful condition by cleaning all the haulage roads of dust and spraying or sprinkling the same with water at once.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report 15- Fatal Accidents
      These men were working night shift and about 4 o'clock a. m. went into a room to place a car on the track and to fire three shots that had been left by the shot firers. They completed this work and had gone about 1,000 feet in the entry when the shots exploded causing an explosion of dust which killed them in Citizens Coal Company's mine "A," Springfield.
 
February 23, 1918, Ernest Cox, of Springfield, trackman,age 18 years, single.
 
February 23, 1918, Ray M. Hiner (Miner), of Springfield, night foreman, age 24 years, single.
 
February 23, 1918, Thomas W. Reilly, of Springfield, driver, age 40 years, married, leaves a widow and eight children.
 
February 23, 1918, Walter Whelchel, of Kalo, Iowa, trackman, age 28 years, married, leaves a widow and two children.

Powder Explosion
      February 22, 1918, an explosion of 26 kegs of powder, which had been let down into the mine and allowed to stand on the switch track while the electric power was on, occurred in the Royal Mine of Chicago, Wilmington and Franklin Coal Company, Virden, Macoupin County, which resulted in the death of four men.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report 15
Report of Investigation of Powder Explosion at the Royal Mine, C. W. & F. Coal Co.
      Assisted by James Taylor, special investigator, an investigation was made of the C. W. & F. Coal Co., and we found that four men -- Leo Moffat, John Fassero, George Osborne and Tim Roberts -- were killed by an explosion of twenty-six kegs of powder that had been lowered in the mine while the electric current was on the mine wires, and mining machines and electric motors in operation. A car containing forty kegs of powder was sent down at 9:00 o'clock p. m.: fourteen of these kegs of powder were unloaded from the car and placed upon the bench seats, which are located at the bottom of the hoisting shaft in the north manway refuge place. The kegs were for a different section of the mine than those remaining in the car The car, with its contents, was placed on a nearby switch at the southside of the shaft and allowed to remain there until 2:30 o'clock a. m. At 2:30 o clock a. m. the electric locomotive was switching cars and while handling a car of ties and props was coupled to the car containing the twenty-six kegs of powder and in starting the load the motor was evidently grounded the car containing the powder was charged and the powder exploded killing four men and endangering a number of others.
      Mr. A. W. Archibald, the night boss, informed us that the powder was always sent down the shaft between the hours of 7:30 and 9:30 p. m., that it had been the prevailing custom during the period of his employment as night boss. On the night of the explosion the powder was lowered into the mine at 9:00 p. m., and remained near the shaft bottom until 2:45 .p m.
      Mr. F. Mayer, the night machine boss, stated that the electric current was always turned on at 6:00 p. m., and continued on until 3:15 to 3:30 a. m. During these hours the mining machines and motors were in operation intermittingly.
      The manner in which this powder was handled was in violation of section 19 (a),, which provides that electrically equipped mines must not transport explosives until the current is turned off.
      The placing of the fourteen kegs in the north manway refuge place was also a violation of the mining law, which provides that no material shall be stored in refuge places.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report 15- Fatal Accidents
      February 22, 1918, an explosion of 26 kegs of powder, which had been unlawfully let down into the mine and allowed to stand on the switch track while the powder was on, occurred in the Royal mine of C. W. & F. Coal Company, Virden, Macoupin County, in which four lives were lost.
      The coroner's jury recommended that the company be held liable for this accident.
      The name, age, occupation, etc., of the men that all resided in Virden, Macoupin County, Illinois follows:
 
John Fassero, laborer, age 22 years, single.
 
Leo Moffit, motorman, age 19 years, married.
 
George Osborne, laborer, age 18 years, single.
 
J. Roberts, laborer, age 21 years, single.

Fire
      June 29, 1918, three men opened a sealed fire section of Mine No. 8, O'Gara Coal Company, Eldorado, Saline County, to investigate whether or not the fire was extinguished. Some of the team would not participate, contending the distance was too far and that resealing closer to the fire location should first be done. Their contention was true, the oxygen of one member being fully consumed on the return journey and in sight of the opened seal. The other two consumed theirs in attempted rescue. Members with fresh apparatus outside the seal quickly brought the bodies to fresh air where artificial respiration was applied but failed.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report 15
Mine Fires.
      On the night of September 24, 1917, a fire was discovered in the No. 1 mine, O'Gara Coal Company, and sealed off the following day. The mine was reopened November 23. On May 25, 1918, this mine was again found to be on fire and was sealed off on the 26th, and reopened on June 29.
      On October 26, 1917, fire was discovered in No. 8 mine and was sealed the same day and reopened November 26. At mine No. 12 a fire was discovered June 16, sealed June 17 and reopened June 28.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report 15- Fatal Accidents
      These men had opened up a sealed section of the mine and were returning when they were overcome by not having a sufficient amount of oxygen in their helmets. They were suffocated in O'Gara Coal Company's No. 1 mine.
 
Robert Kennedy, miner, age 44 years, married, leaves a widow and seven children.
 
William Taylor, miner, age 37 years, married, leaves a widow and two children.
 
Loren Whitler, miner, age 34 years, married, leaves a widow and five children.

Gas Explosion at Franklin Coal & Coke Co., Royalton
      An explosion occurred at the north mine of Royalton on September 27th, 1918, causing the deaths of 21 men as follows: ten miners, two bratticemen, the superintendent, the mine manager, three assistant mine managers, two examiners, the mine electrician and the motor boss.
      Late on the preceding night a fire was discovered at room 25 off the 2 S panel off the 4 ES. The room was driven in about 25 feet from the entry. The fire was caused by the blasting which was a very frequent occurrence at this mine since black powder was used as the explosive. The fire evidently had gained much headway for its smoke and gasses caused the death of two mules on the return air current at the main shaft bottom, about 3,000 feet from the fire and prior to the explosion.
      The 28th room neck was the last one turned off both the first and second south panels. The second south is the intake and the first south the return for the air current, this return traveling into the face of the main south thence direct along the haulage road to the shaft bottom.
      The fire fighters had decided to build seals between rooms 21 and 22 on each panel entry. They had nearly completed the seal on the intake (second south panel) when one of the men was sent out on an errand. A telephone was located on the return air side of the 4 ES at the neck of the first south panel. The door between the first and second south panel was nailed shut but this man pried it open and was walking into the return air when his naked light ignited gas. The explosion blew this man back through the door, into the intake air and he was found crawling out towards the bottom on the intake air course by rescuers. He was burned, but not badly. He probably gasped at the time of the explosion which resulted in his death later. He lived to give the information that he had ignited the gas with his naked light on the return airway. He died the second day after the explosion.
      Rescue men with and without oxygen apparatus gathered as soon as possible and men equipped with oxygen apparatus went into the panel as far as the temperature would permit. Six bodies were found between rooms 9 and 15. The first body found still had a lighted carbide lamp. These six bodies showed indications that there had been efforts made to rush out. There were but little signs of violence where these bodies were found. The bodies showed no signs of being burned or singed.
      The accumulation of gas, together with the existence of the fire, would not permit the ventilation of the panel and since the oxygen apparatus men could not advance farther than room No. 16 because of the intense heat, it was decided to seal the panels temporarily.
      On the night of October 5th the panel was again entered. This was by means of air locks and the remaining 14 bodies were brought out by the apparatus men. This work was very efficiently done, not one man being overcome regardless of the great distance the bodies were carried.
      The bodies were found covered with about six inches to eight inches of top coal. These men evidently had not had time to even attempt to get out. They, also, were killed by the afterdamp, the explosion violence nor flame having reached them. These bodies were found at the places where they had been working. The seal which they had nearly completed was blown down but did not show effects of other violence.
      The panel was again sealed and the mine resumed operation on October 10th.
      The force of this very weak explosion exerted itself in the NS entry and the SW section of the mine. Coal dust entered but little if any to propagate the explosion. Low oxygen content, dampness and large expansion area were factors in the prevention of extreme violence.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report 15
Explosions.
      On September 28, 1918, an explosion occurred at the Franklin Coal & Coke Company's mine at Royalton on what is known as the third and fourth southeast parallel entries causing the death of 21 men.
      These men were trying to seal a fire, which occurred in room 25 on fourth southeast entry when the gas ignited, killing 20 men instantly and one died 24 hours later.
 
1919 Annual Coal Report 16- Fatal Accidents
      September 28, 1918, an explosion occurred in Franklin Coal & Coke Company's No. 1 mine, Royalton, in which 21 men lost their lives.
      The following list gives the names, occupations, ages and conjugal relations of the men killed:
 
W. H. Alvis, assistant mine manager, age 33, married, leaves two dependents.
 
J. E. Beck, miner, age 27, single, leaves three dependents.
 
W. J. Boatman, miner, age 25, single.
 
Grover Capps, assistant mine manager, age 33, married, leaves four dependents.
 
A. E. Capstick, superintendent, age 36, married, leaves eight dependents.
 
James Dickerson, motorman, age 35, married, leaves four dependents.
 
Wm. A. Ditterline, bratticeman, age 29, married, leaves three dependents.
 
John Elejanczyk, miner, single.
 
Tony Furlih, bratticeman, age 37, single.
 
Jettie Harris, miner, age 24, married, leaves one dependent.
 
Anton Heberet, assistant mine manager, age 32, married, leaves four dependents.
 
Theo. F. Helm, mine manager, age 36, married, leaves four dependents.
 
W. H. Holland, miner, age 46, married, leaves three dependents.
 
John Hynd, mine examiner, age 49, single, leaves one dependent.
 
John Karloveck, miner.
 
John Lee, miner, age 34, married, leaves four dependents.
 
E. McCleary, miner, age 24, married, leaves two dependents.
 
Harry McLaughlin, miner, age 33, married, leaves two dependents.
 
Archie Storrie, mine examiner, age 62, married, leaves two dependents.
 
Warren L. Stroud, miner, age 24, married, leaves one dependent.
 
Robert Watts, miner, age 35, married, leaves four dependents.

Explosion
      May 12, 1919, an explosion caused by a windy shot occurred in Marion County Coal Company's mine, Centralia, Marion County, resulting in the death of four shot firers. Black powder was the explosive used in this mine.
 
1919 Annual Coal Report 16- Fatal Accidents
      May 12, 1919, an explosion caused by a windy shot occurred in Marion County Coal Company's mine, Centralia, which resulted in the death of four shot firers, viz:
 
Gus Bertges, age 37 years, married, one child.
 
Robert Cochran, age 46 years, married, three children.
 
Henry Cooley, age 47 years, married, two children.
 
John Gerton, age 39 years, married, one child.
 

Gas Explosion at Old Ben Coal Corporation's No. 10
Christopher, Franklin County
      A gas explosion occurred in Old Ben Mine No. 10, Christopher, at 10:45 a. m. June 6, 1919, causing the death of three men and the slight burning of a fourth man.
      A pick-up pair of east entries was being driven towards the face of an inaccessible pair of north entries to continue the driving of the north pair. This north pair had squeezed some distance outby their face some two years previous. Long drill holes for safety and in compliance with the mining law were drilled ahead. Unfortunately the left and center holes were farther north than the old entry face and were in the solid coal. The right flank hole stopped less than a foot from penetration, due to overhanging rib coal. Unfortunately also was the 4% upgrade and consequent mining in the clay with the mining machine thus mining under the old mining in the north entry. In doing so, the machine men thought they were in solid conditions. However, a hole no bigger than three inches in diameter was made.
      Electric cap lamps had recently been installed in the company's adjacent No. 11 mine and some of these were in use for this particular job at No. 10, no carbide lights to be used in that territory.
      The machine men had loaded their machine and brought it 500 feet outby the face. Shortly afterward the motorman with his cable locomotive and triprider on front end of pushed car started towards the newly undercut face for the hand loaders to load the bug-dust. The triprider did not, on this trip, change to his electric light. As he passed through a lead-curtain near the face, the gas was ignited. The two loaders and triprider, all of whom were in by the curtain, were fatally burned. The motorman was slightly burned. The trip coasted back down the steep hill and wrecked after crashing through and destroying a trap door. There was, however, no violence from the explosion. Rock dust from troughs and coated application was dispersed to a limited extent
 
1919 Annual Coal Report 16
Explosions.
      On June 6, 1919, an explosion occurred at No. 10 mine of the Old Ben Coal Corporation in which three men lost their lives. The explosion occurred on what is known as the third and fourth east panel off fourth northeast.
 
1918 Annual Coal Report 15- Fatal Accidents
      These men were killed by an explosion of gas in Old Ben Coal Corporation's No. 10 mine, Christopher. The mine manager had failed to carry out instructions given him by the inspector. The triprider, Raleigh Furlow, went into the room with a naked light and ignited the gas.
 
Raleigh Furlow, triprider, single.
 
Ellsworth Parker, miner, age 42 years, married, leaves a widow.
 
Tom Roberts, miner, age 40 years, single.

Report of a Death in Oxygen Breathing Apparatus
West Frankfort, Franklin County
      At about 6:30 p. m. July 24, 1920, a fire was discovered in an old pair of panels in By Products Coke Corporation Mine No. 18, West Frankfort. It was almost wholly extinguished but not quite, because all the fire extinguishers on hand had been used. Upon return, the fire had rekindled, and sealing was then done. On July 28th one seal of the pair was broken for an oxygen breathing apparatus crew to enter for inspection. Benton, Herrin, and DuQuoin teams, county and State inspectors, and local and district management of the corporation were present.
      On first inspection, smoke was found and a helmet wearer, the county inspector, was overcome. In thirty minutes he was out by the seal and revived. On the second inspection, the district superintendent was likewise overcome. It took much longer to bring him out and he could not be revived. Three doctors were on hand upon bringing him back out by the seal. He was ill and had vomited. This clogged the mica valves, thus stopping the flow of oxygen.
 
1921 Annual Coal Report 17- Fatal Accidents
      July 28, 1920, Philip White, superintendent, age 41 years, married, was suffocated in By-Products Coke Corporation's mine No. 18. He leaves a widow and six children.

Sources :
 
1 A Compilation of the Reports of the Mining Industry of Illinois
                from the Earliest Records to Close of the Year 1930
                Department of Mines and Minerals; Springfield, Illinois

2 A Compilation of the Reports of the Mining Industry of Illinois
                from the Earliest Records to 1954
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois;

10 Thirtieth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1911
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1912

11 Thirty-First Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1912
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1913

12 Thirty-Second Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1913
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1914

13 Thirty-Fourth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1915
                State Mining Board -- Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers, 1915

14 Twenty-Sixth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1917
                Department of Mines and Minerals; Year Ended June 30, 1917
                Printed by authority of the State of Illinois; Springfield: Illinois State Journal, State Printers, 1917

15 Thirty-Seventh Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1918
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Springfield, ILL.; Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers 1918

16 Thirty-Eighth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1919
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Springfield, ILL.; Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers 1919

17 Fortieth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1921
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Springfield, ILL.; Phillips Bros. Print; 1921

41 Thirty-Fifth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1916
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, ILL.; Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers 1916

 

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