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Illinois
Coal & Coal Mining
History & Genealogy

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Coal Mining Disasters in Illinois
1921 to 1930
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List of Illinois Coal Mine Disasters Reference Sources

Gas Explosion
      February 14, 1921, a gas explosion in No. 8 mine, O'Gara Coal Company, Eldorado, Saline County, killed three men.
 
1921 Annual Coal Report1921 - Fatal Accidents
      These men were killed by an explosion of gas in O'Gara Coal Company's No. 8 mine, Eldorado, Saline County.
 
Frank Day, trackman, age 42 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
Leland Miller, laborer, age 19 years, single.
 
Henry Wright, laborer, age 41 years, married,leaves a widow.

Windy Shot Explosion
      February 23, 1921, three shot firers were killed as a result of windy shot, in Centralia Coal Company's mine, Centralia, Marion County.
 
1921 Annual Coal Report17 - Fatal Accidents - Washington County
 
George Early, shotfirer, age 41 years, married, leaves a widow and five children.
 
Samuel Goforth, shotfirer, age 53 years, married, leaves a widow and four children.
 
Harry L. Warren, shotfirer, age 37 years, married, leaves a widow.

Mine Fire at the Union Collieries Kathleen Mine
Dowell, Perry County
      A mine fire occurred at the Kathleen Mine of the Union Collieries Company on February 23, 1921, which resulted in the sealing on top of both shafts, with seven men in the mine.
      It is not known what actually caused the fire, but it is assumed that a curtain caught fire from an electric wire or wires.
      Main entries at this mine were on a three entry system, and cross and panel entries were on a two entry system. Panels were connected between cross entries. The fire originated in one of the three main north entries near the intersection of the pair of cross entries where the seven men were entombed.
      The smoke was first discovered by the surveyor and two helpers who had just left the above-mentioned seven men, to go to the shaft bottom for their lunch which they had forgotten. As they turned south on the main north from the pair of entries where the seven men were now entombed, they met smoke but assumed that it was due to a blown out cable. They traveled to the faces of the main north and started down the middle entry. They found smoke there also. They returned to the faces of the main north entry, and the surveyor, with some of the men working the main entries, endeavored to get back to the seven men, but failed to do so because of the dense smoke. They returned to the faces of the main north and traveled back on the west entry of the main north, trying to find a west cross entry which connected to the other side of the mine. They failed to locate this pair of entries, so the surveyor with his two helpers and two of the three main north miners worked their way through the fire by crawling close to the west rib of this main north entry. The other miner refused to pass through the fire and returned towards the faces of the main north. This miner found the west cross entry and came out on the other side of the mine.
      Attempts were made to extinguish the fire sufficiently to reach the seven men, but the fire gained very fast. Rescue teams were called, having breathing apparatus, but the teams were unable to get to the men because of the extreme heat. The shafts were then sealed on the surface.
      A drill hole was then drilled down to the face of a parting entry that was just being started near the faces of the entries where the seven men were entombed, with the hopes that the men had sealed themselves in before the smoke and gases from the fire had reached them. Smoke and gas came through this hole, proving failure of this effort.
      Opening of the mine began March 17 by rescue teams under the direction of the State Department of Mines and Minerals and the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Mines, and was completed on March 29 when all the bodies were removed.
 
1921 Annual Coal Report17 - Fatal Accidents
      These men suffocated in the Union Collieries Company's mine as the result of the fire. The message did not reach me [the inspector] until 6:15 p. m. February 23. I reached the mine at 8 o'clock that evening and went into it with two helmet teams and fresh air men, and did everything possible to reach the entombed men and extinguish the fire, but to no avail.
      After several attempts to reach the men, the extreme danger of an explosion occurring, and no hope of the unfortunate men being alive, it was unanimously decided by those present that the only way to stop the fire and avoid further loss of life was to seal the shaft, which was begun at 1:30 a. m. February 24th. The exact cause of the fire is unknown.
      Opening up of the mine began March 17 and completed on the 29th when all the bodies were removed.
 
Elmer Kirkpatrick, laborer, age 25 years, single.
 
Adam Klepecky, miner, age 38 years, married, leaves a widow and four children.
 
Edward O'Brien, miner age 35 years, single.
 
James Pharris, miner, age 29 years, married, leaves a widow and two children.
 
Brown Smith, miner, age 34 years, single.
 
Jacob Valerius, trackman, age 25 years, single.
 
Thomas Waugh, miner, age 35 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 

Gas Explosion in Harrisburg Colliery Company
Harco, Saline County
      The explosion occurred on August 31, 1921, causing eleven men to be suffocated by afterdamp. The following day a man wearing an oxygen breathing apparatus was overcome and lost his life.
      The explosion was caused by the ignition of gas by a naked light, the gas coming through a horizontal drill hole from a pair of entries. This pair of entries had been driven for development but was temporarily abandoned because of the extreme dip of grade at the faces. It was expected that the pair of entries being driven towards this abandoned pair would break through, these entries to be used for a new haulage-way. The temporarily abandoned entries were accessible and were inspected occasionally, but apparently no gas had been found. The mixture, however, in this abandoned pair of entries was explosive, the flame traveling from the naked light through the drill hole resulting in a very violent explosion in the abandoned pair. The explosion force or flame did not cause the fatalities. The eleven lives lost was caused by the afterdamp about 1,200 to 1,500 feet from the origin of the explosion. Coal dust did not enter into the explosion because of the large amount of fallen and crushed shale giving a large percentage of incombustible material; and probably from room for expansion.
 
1922 Annual Coal Report18 - Fatal Accidents
      August 31, 1921, a gas explosion occurred in Harrisburg Colliery Company's Harco mine, in which twelve men lost their lives. The name, age, occupation, and conjugal relation of the men are as follows:
 
Hiram Brown, miner, age 27 years, married, leaves a widow and two children.
 
Lyman Bulkley, miner, age 18 years, single.
 
Ernie Goodrich, miner, age 34 years, widower, leaves three children.
 
George Hunter, miner, age 32 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
John Luther, miner, age 48 years, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
Charles Mosco, miner, age 36 years, single.
 
Mike Mosco, miner, age 38 years, married, leaves a widow and four children.
 
Herbert Reeder, miner, age 28 years, married, leaves a widow and three children.
 
David Stewart, miner, age 42 years, married, leaves a widow and six children.
 
Herschel Vaughn, miner, age 26 years, married, leaves a widow and two children.
 
George Warwick, miner, age 30 years, single.

Explosion
      February 21, 1922, three shot firers received injuries which resulted in their deaths a few days later, from a shot explosion in Springfield District Coal Company's No. 58 mine, Taylorville, Christian County.
 
1922 Annual Coal Report18 - Fatal Accidents
 
February 22, 1922, Joe Burtucci, shot firer, age 54 years, married, was killed in Springfield District Coal Company's No. 58 mine by a shot explosion. He leaves a widow.
 
February 26, 1922, Ernest Eggerman, shot firer, age 36 years, married, died from injuries received from a shot explosion on February 21 in Springfield District Coal Company's No. 58 mine. He leaves a widow and four children.
 
February 26, 1922, Gus Melzer, shot firer, age 26 years, married, was killed in Springfield District Coal Company's No. 58 mine by a shot explosion. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
March 1, 1922, Charles Monetti, shot firer, age 27 years, married, died from injuries received February 21 from a shot explosion in Springfield District Coal Mining Company's No. 58 mine. He leaves a widow and one child.

Gas Explosion
Johnston City, Williamson County
      September 29, 1922, an explosion occurred in Consolidated Coal Company's Lake Creek mine, which resulted in the death of five men. It was at first thought, and so reported, that this was a powder explosion but later investigation, based upon new evidence, showed clearly in the opinion of the State inspector that the primary cause was an explosion of gas.
 
1923 Annual Coal Report19 - Fatal Accidents
      September 29, 1922, an explosion of powder occurred in Consolidated Coal Company's Lake Creek mine, which caused the death of five men, as follows:
 
Lee Bailey, civil engineer's helper, age 26 years, single. He leaves his mother dependent.
 
Paul Best, civil engineer's helper, age 24 years, single.
 
Joseph Castrole, miner, age 25 years, single.
 
Marcus Kolovich, miner, age 37 years, married. He leaves a widow and five children.
 
Harry Shaw, civil engineer, age 32 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.

Flooding / Drownings
      December 6, 1923, three men were drowned in the Radium mine of the Aluminum Ore Company, near Belleville, St. Clair County. The machine cut through into an old mine filled with water, allowing the water to rush in with such force that the men had no time to escape.
 
1924 Annual Coal Report20 - Fatal Accidents
 
Louis Armbruster, miner, age 53 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
John F. Evans, miner, age 41 years. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
William Lesher, miner, age 41 years, single.

Gas Explosion, Crerar-Clinch McClintock Mine
Johnston City, Williamson County
      On January 25, 1924, a gas and coal dust explosion occurred in the East mine of Johnston City, operated by the Crerar-Clinch Coal Company (successors to Searles Coal Company), resulting in the death of 32 and injury of eight men. One of the eight men died later, making a total of 33 deaths.
      The explosion occurred at 2:40 p. m. when 370 men were in the mine. The mine is one of the older mines in the field, having been sunk in 1905, and is developed long distances in nearly all directions where men are required to work, resulting in rather scattered locations of the workmen.
      The territory in which the explosion occurred was the 11-12 north entries off the main east, the main east being the two main entries eastward from the shaft bottom. This 11-12 north is a comparatively new territory, these two north entries being developed a short distance in by the 5-6 panel entries. The 11-12 north, the 5-6 east and west panels and the 3-4 east and west panel entries were on development work only, two men being in each pair of entries, making a total of ten men employed in by the 1-2 east and west panels. The 1-2 east panels had 13 rooms on each panel, making a total of 26 rooms. These rooms were developed a short distance in by their first crosscuts, and nearly all the loaders were at their working faces loading their cars. The machine men were in room No. 5 on the 2 east panel, making an undercut. The first west panels had 13 rooms on each panel. The rooms on the first west were finished. Many had caved and some were caving. The rooms on this first west were unquestionably on a squeeze. Because of this, three trackmen were employed taking out the entry track on this first west panel, two of them being at rooms No. 8 and No. 9 and the other being with the face boss in the vicinity of room No. 4 on the same entry. This was also the reason why the mine manager was in this territory. The rooms on the second west panel were nearly finished and but few loaders were at work in these rooms. The squeeze apparently was not affecting the second west panel.
      The ventilation of this territory was from a current of intake air from the main east air course passing into the 12th north, ventilating the 1-2 east, 3-4 east, 5-6 east, 12-11 north, 6-5 west and 4-3 west in a continuous circuit. When the air reached the 2-1 west, it was forced into both of these entries by a door installed on the 11 north haulage out by the first west. The first west panel entry is connected to the first west off the 10th north east so that the return air from this 11-12 north east section passed into the 9-10 east section and assisted in the ventilation of that territory.
      The haulage was by a main line trolley locomotive from the shaft bottom to the parting, this parting being located between the second west and third west on the 11th north, and a storage battery locomotive for gathering the coal to the parting.
      At the time of the explosion, the main line locomotive had left the parting with a trip of loaded cars and was directly in front of the first west panel entrance. The door on the 11th north, which forced the return air into and through the 1-2 west panels, was open for this main line motor trip. The gathering locomotive was at the first crosscut on the second east panel with a small trip of loaded cars. The door in this crosscut was open to permit the locomotive to pass through to pick up loads which were on the first east entry at room No. 2. In all probability, the door between the 11-12 north at the second east was also open to permit the gathering locomotive and its loaded trip to come out of the second east to place the trip on the parting.
      The condition of the mine as to cleanliness was good. The main east air course and haulageway were in exceptionally good condition. The 12th north air course was caved and had considerable fallen shale but had ample area for the required amount of air. The 11 north haulage road was in good condition. A cut in the fire clay had been made in the floor of this haulage road in the vicinity of the 1-2 west panel entrances. These conditions resulted in a high ash content of the pulverized dust in both directions from the 1-2 panels along the 11-12 north entries and prevented the explosion from traveling north or south. The ash content in the 1-2 east and 1-2 west panels was normal, probably a little higher in the west than in the east panels. Assuming the door between the 11th and 12th north to be open, a cloud of fine coal dust was being carried by the air directly from room No. 5 where the machine was cutting, to the 1-2 west panel entrances.
      Evidently the squeezing condition of the rooms on the first west caused the accumulation of methane, which was forced out on to the entry, causing an explosive mixture to be carried by the air towards the two trackmen who were on the first west entry near rooms 8 and 9. The naked lights of these men ignited the gas, and they were burned badly and killed instantly. The force spread in all directions at this point, but the explosion was propagated towards room No. 1 of the first west entry, apparently being fed by gas-laden air due to the squeezing rooms on this first west entry, and coal dust. The face boss and other tracklayer were on this entry in the vicinity of room 3, one fatally and the other badly burned. They were both able to travel to the parting. The most of the explosion flame and force crossed through the 45 degree crosscut outby room No. 1, over to the second west panel. After the first, there was but little violence in this pair of entries and the explosion and the explosion force almost ceased before it reached the 11th north. Propagation at this point, however, became violent when the flame came in contact with the coal dust that was being and had been carried from the second east panel, the explosion entering the panel with extreme violence and flame. Both diminished quickly on the first east, due to expansion, but remaining very hot, with diminishing force on the entry and in the rooms of the second east panel. Men in rooms near the panel entrance met their death almost instantly, while those in the innermost rooms were able to travel at increasing distances from the room faces. The nine men from rooms No. 5 and No. 9 inclusive, on first east panel entry, were able to congregate at room neck No. 10. Evidently they died one by one, toppling over on each other. The last man to fall was not dead but unconscious when reached by rescuers.
      The men who were in the second west rooms and the mine manager, who was probably on the second west panel entry, were not burned or killed by the explosion as it traveled from its origin on the first west at rooms 8 and 9 and crossed to the east panels. These men were able to travel and seek safety until the addition of afterdamp from the east panels united with that of the west panels, thus overcoming them. Four of the seven men in this entry were alive but unconscious.
      The ten men in the development entries were not affected by the flame except that one of them was on the empty track of the parting, and saw the flame. He also saw the face boss and trackman make their way out of the flame affected territory on to the parting and, shortly afterwards, assisted by the others, took these two men with them to a place of safety. These ten men realized that they could not go through the afterdamp, so opened the door between the 11th and 12th north entries at the third east panel, to short-circuit the afterdamp, when the rescuers would re-establish the air current and wrote "Men" on the door, showing that they had taken refuge in the 11th west entry. These ten men were found unharmed, but the face boss had died and the trackman rescued by them was badly burned.
      The only damage to the mine was in the immediate vicinity of the 1-2 east and west sections of the mine, and this damage was slight considering the large number of lives lost.
      Rescuers immediately went into the explosion affected territory and took out three injured men and one body. They had located other bodies when a telephone call came from one of the 47 men who had sealed themselves in the 9-10 north east section. This section was on the return air current from the 11-12 north east section. This call prompted the rescuers to go at once to the aid of these 47 men, resulting in getting them out without harm but with serious delay for some of the men in the 11-12 north east. Rescuers did succeed in reaching some of the latter in time. Closed lights were used in the rescue work.
 
1924 Annual Coal Report20 - Fatal Accidents
      January 25, 1924, an explosion of gas caused by open lights in the Crerar-Clinch Coal Company's McClintock mine, killed thirty-three men. The usual data for these fatalities is given below:
 
Joe Auskaytis, loader, age 50 years, single.
 
Ed. Brobel, loader, age 40 years, married, additional information not reported.
 
Marion Bryant, loader, married, additional information not reported.
 
W. R. Bryant, loader, age not reported, single.
 
Clyde Caplinger, loader, age 19 years, single.
 
Wilson Caplinger, loader, age 20 years, single.
 
Antonia Carusco, loader, age not reported, single.
 
James Cobb, loader, age 20 years, single.
 
Joe Corbett, loader, age 20 years, single.
 
Charles Cox, age 21 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
John Delsbetta, machine man, age 42 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Carl Duncan, loader, age not reported, single.
 
Otto Fehrenbacher, loader, age 40 years, single.
 
Jesse Ford, face boss, age 36 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Pat Gooch, loader, age not reported, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
J. M. Henderson, loader, married, additional information not reported.
 
E. Hopkins, machine man, age 38 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Joe Kik, loader, age 17 years, single.
 
Pete Kirk, loader, married, additional information not reported.
 
Victor Lakotic, loader, additional information not reported.
 
H. J. McCullogh, mine manager, age 32 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
James Jefferson McKown was listed in the report as Jack McKowan, loader, married,
additional information not reported.
 
Beryle Morgan, motorman, age 21 years, single.
 
Charles Narbet, loader, age 38 years, married, additional information not reported.
 
J. J. Perkin, loader, age 45 years, married, additional information not reported.
 
James Perrette, machine man, age 40 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Ton Perricone, loader, additional information not reported.
 
George Phillips, trip rider, age 21 years, single.
 
Gunseppe Piaza, loader, age 36 years, single.
 
Sylvester Rock, loader, age 37 years, married. He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Hugh Skogypace, loader, married, additional information not reported.
 
Ollie Williams, trackman, age 35 years, married, additional information not reported.
 
George Zelinski, loader, age not reported, single.

Gas Explosion
      September 26, 1925, three men were killed by an explosion of gas in Consolidated Coal Company's No. 7 mine, Herrin, Williamson County. The men were working in an entry where the ventilation had become deranged, allowing gas to accumulate. It became ignited in some way unknown.
 
1925 Annual Coal Report21 - Fatal Accidents
      These men were killed in Consolidated Coal Company's No. 7 mine. These men were working in an entry where the ventilation had become deranged allowing gas to accumulate which became ignited in some accidental way.
 
James Galligan, miner, age 37 years, single;. He leaves his father and mother dependent.
 
William Gruzinski, miner, age 37 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
John Mulkins, miner, age 47 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.

Gas Explosion at Chicago, Wilmington & Franklin Coal Company
Orient No. 2
West Frankfort, Franklin County
      A gas explosion in Chicago, Wilmington & Franklin Coal Company's Orient No. 2 mine on January 29, 1926, killed five men.
      A pair of dipping development entries had suddenly started uphill. The faces were ventilated by a booster fan located outby the last open crosscut. Four men were near the face, one an examiner. Evidently gas extinguished the flame in his testing lamp unknowingly to them. He opened the safety lamp and struck a match to light it. They were killed at once, and the fifth victim was killed by a flying trap door some 500 feet from the entry faces.
      The mine was on closed lights. It had recently started to rock dust and these two entries were well rock dusted to within about 60 feet of their faces. The explosion flame extended only 75 feet into the rock dust and was extinguished.
      Rock dust prevented a very bad disaster since there were 1,300 men below on this day shift. The State law was changed at once from key locks on flame safety lamps to magnetic locks.
 
1926 Annual Coal Report22 - Fatal Accidents
      These men were killed in C. W. & F. Coal Company's No. 2 mine. It appears from the evidence presented that Mr. Hindman, with the other men, had been brushing the gas and had it stirred up when he sat down, took his lamp apart and struck a match to light it which ignited the gas with the result as stated.
 
Ed Covert, loader, age 40 years, married. He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Elijah Hindman, loader, age not given, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Loyd Kern, loader, age 27 years married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Jerry Roche, loader, age 30 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Arlie Sanders, loader, age 36 years, married. He leaves a widow and four children.

Gas Explosion, Saline County Coal Corporation No. 2 Mine
Ledford, March 30, 1927, 8:10 A.M.
      The Saline County Coal Corporation owns and operates several mines in the vicinity of Harrisburg, Illinois, where its local office is located. The location of the mine where the explosion occurred is Ledford, a small mining village five miles south of the city of Harrisburg. Eight men lost their lives and none were injured.
      The recent daily production of the mine has averaged approximately 1,500 tons. On the day of the explosion there were 196 men in the mine. The mine is an old one and all of its present workings are in the northeast section, varying from one mile to one and three-fourths miles from the main shaft. The mine has been considered as being almost non-gaseous. The shafts are but 102 feet in depth although at the explosion location the distance to the surface is approximately 200 feet.
      Illinois seam No. 5 is worked, the coal varying in thickness from 4½ feet to 7 feet. Where the coal is thin this is usually the result of a split in the seam due to a shale intrusion. Occasionally slips or horsebacks occur that extend into the coal seam and when such are encountered methane gas feeders give limited quantities of gas.
      The mine is operated on open lights. One examiner is employed. The territory where the explosion occurred is double shifted, this territory having entry development work only. More than the usual quantity of gas for this mine was being found in this development territory due largely to the double shift work. Permissible explosives are used in this territory. The coal seam is of a rolling nature and water collects in the low places. The coal dust is dry on the ribs and timbers. On the floor, except in the low places, the road dust is dry. Gathering locomotives work in this territory but mules are used in other parts of the mine.
      Starting time is at 7:30 a. m. The explosion occurred at 8:10 a. m. Two gangs of three men each were employed on the day shift in this development territory, one gang for the 17-18 northwest and one for the 25-26 northeast, these entries being turned at about 45 degrees off the 3 north and at the same point. These entries were developed to about 400 to 450 feet from the 3 north. The 18 northwest entry was going uphill at the face. It had gone up a hill since its beginning; however, there was a rather abrupt knoll on this entry between the entrance and face. This 18 northwest was a return airway. On the morning of the explosion this entry face was blocked out because of gas by the examiner. A bratticeman was sent in to curtain out the gas. Evidently this had been completed, for the three gang men were at work, two in the 17 northwest and one with the bratticeman in the 18 northwest, he having his empty car checked and pushed into the face ready for loading. In the meantime a trackman was at work near the face of the 26 northeast and the three gang men employed in the 25-26 northeast were getting ready to start to work. Two of these gang men were switching or otherwise working with an empty car at the entrance of the 18 northwest and it is at this point that the explosion probably originated. Evidently the return air from the face of the 18 northwest along the 18 northwest entry, also the 26 northeast and back along the 25 northeast entry, had a methane content below an explosive mixture. The knoll on the 18 northwest probably had an explosive mixture of gas near the roof. The curtaining of gas at the 18 northwest face increased the methane content and carried the explosive mixture from the top of knoll on to the lights of the two gang men at the entrance to this entry. Direction of explosion forces further indicate that the origin of explosion was at this point.
      Coal dust entered into the explosion as evidenced by the coke deposits in various places in the cavities of the coal ribs. The explosion was a violent one considering that it was localized to such a small area. The empty car near the explosion origin was turned wheels up, all of the brattices were of wood and these and all doors were blown out in the vicinity. Three of the bodies were badly mangled. A 6-ton motor 1,000 feet from the explosion origin was started from rest on level track.
      Had rock dust been installed, rock dust would have been given credit for having prevented the explosion from traveling out on the 3 and 4 northeast entries since the opposite to expansion was the result of four entries leading to two entries. However, rock dusted roof and ribs to within a short distance of the faces might have saved the four men at the faces of the 17-18 northwest and the one man at the face of the 26 northeast.
      Closed lights would have prevented this accident although the gathering motor, due to arrive after the cars were loaded, would have had an opportunity to ignite the gas were it not sufficiently diffused. The diffusion of the gas to below the explosion point would in all probability have occurred in a few minutes.
 
1927 Annual Coal Report23 - Fatal Accidents
      March 30, an explosion of gas occurred in the No. 2 mine of the Saline County Coal Corporation in which eight men lost their lives. The information concerning these men follows:
 
George Ambrose, age 25, single.
 
Peter Dorris, age 56, leaves a widow and one child.
 
William Felber, age 44, leaves a widow and three children.
 
Claud Lunch, age 26, leaves a widow and one child.
 
Lee Morris, age 30, leaves a widow and three children.
 
Cecil Reynolds, age 19, single.
 
Simon Simaitis, age 48, leaves a widow and three children.
 
Joseph Toth, age 44, leaves a widow.

Gas Explosion
      December 20, 1927, an explosion of gas in Cosgrove-Meehan Coal Company's No. 1 mine, Johnston City, Williamson County, killed seven men. The cause of the ignition is not known, as all the men in that section of the mine were killed.
 
1927 Annual Coal Report23 - Fatal Accidents
      December 20, an explosion of gas occurred in Gosgrove-Meehan Coal Company's No. 1 mine, Johnston City, by which seven men lost their lives. The cause of the ignition is not known, as all the men working in this section of the mine were killed. The names and conjugal relations follows:
 
Dave Anderson, age 50, married, leaves a widow.
 
Fred Cagle, age 47, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
G. Corrotto, age 39, single.
 
George Grubb, age 40, married, leaves a widow and three children.
 
Wm. R. Jones, age 37 years, married, leaves a widow and three children.
 
Almus Lavender, age 26, married, leaves a widow and one child.
 
Charles Wyatt, age 40, married, leaves a widow and one child.

Explosion at Peabody No. 18
West Frankfort, Franklin County
      On January 9, 1928, at 7:45 a. m., an explosion occurred in Mine No. 18 of the Peabody Coal Company. Twenty-one lives were lost.
      Six hundred seventy men were in the mine at the time of the explosion, 91 men escaped from the explosion-affected territory. Eighteen were in the pair of panels where the explosion originated.
      This pair of panels was the 3-4 E. off the 14 NE. There were ten rooms on each panel and the entries were stopped inby rooms No. 10. All of the rooms were working. In general, the 4 E. rooms were upgrade and the 3 E. rooms were downgrade. The maximum grade is approximately eight per cent. Rooms 1 to 7 on the 4 E. and 1 to 4 on the 3 E. are nearly finished. Some of these are picked up because of falls.
      The mine is of the same gaseousness as the average Franklin County mine. Its ventilation system is of an efficiency that will prevent gas accumulations under normal conditions. In the event of an abnormal condition, such as shortening of an air current through carelessness or accident, sudden gas liberation from squeeze, or any cause, permissible enclosed lights are installed for safety measures.
      Enclosed lights are furnished all underground employees for illumination to eliminate the hazard of gas or other combustibles being ignited by naked lights. Mines worked on this system are required by law to have no smoking or smoking material in them. Rock dust was installed out by the section affected late in 1926. The theory of rock dusting is to prevent the propagation of an explosion should one occur; this prevention effect based upon the addition of ash to the coal dust making the resultant mine dust non-propagating of flame.
      At best we can only theorize as to the conditions immediately preceding an explosion and the cause of ignition, for usually much of the evidence is destroyed by flame and force. However, there is usually sufficient evidence left to permit the establishment of certain facts and build up a theory as to the cause or causes. It is to be understood, of course, that such theory is only an opinion. This opinion is as follows:
      Prior to starting time on this morning, the 1 3th north door between the 3 east and the 4 east had been left open. This shorted the air that came up the 3-4 east cross entries and directed it in an outby direction along the 13-14 north, taking all of the air away from the inby end of the 13-14 N. and 3-4 east panels. This permitted the accumulation of methane in these workings and especially at the faces of the 13-14 N. and upgrade rooms on the 4 E. panel. One of the first men to reach the open door location would close it, thinking it had recently been left open. The air current would be then directed to ventilate the 13-14 N. and 3-4 east panels as planned. The air velocity, 210 feet per minute, in the 13-14 north would clear these two entries in a few minutes, but the large room areas would cause a much slower air current velocity and permit an increasing methane content for a short time. This rather large body of gas would move slowly through the 4 east panel rooms, through the last entry crosscut, and into the 3 east panel rooms.
      As is usual in rock dusted mines or otherwise high ash mine dust, there was no sudden reaction of the explosion force. This leaves the evidence of forces as that left from the original explosion, and the origin of this is evident in the vicinity of the last rooms on the 3-4 east panel. The greater force and flame of the explosion went through the 4 east panel, feeding upon the methane on this entry and in the rooms. The faces of these rooms show evidence of intense heat, but little or no force, as would be expected from a conflagration of gas flame. The explosion was not extremely violent, the total wreckage being to doors and wood brattices only. Four doors and seventeen brattices were demolished and six brattices were partially blown out.
      Coal dust entered into the explosion as long as there was a high methane content. The high ash content, due to previous rock dusting and much fine sand on the haulage and ribs, did not permit propagation in the absence of methane and propagation did not result out by the panels. There was no flame north or south on the 13-14 north nor west on the 3 east but flame was formed onto the 4 east, outby the 13 north, for a distance of 235 feet. Explosion force extended approximately in a radius of 600 feet from the panel entrance. A burning canvas was wrapped about the bottom end of an installed prop and set fire to the prop and loose coal, near the outby end of the flame zone, in old room No. 12. Expansion room also assisted in the cooling and non-propagation of the flame. Rock dust troughs installed at a distance of 425 feet from the 3 east were dumped by the force of explosion, but flame was not within 425 feet of their location. Troughs on the 4 east at a distance of 850 feet from the panels were not dumped. Some of the men had cigarettes and matches on their persons. Cigarettes and matches were found at the location of assumed origin. A mining machine was located 17 feet from the face in room 9 on the 4 east panel and the controller was closed. There was no evidence that ignition was from the electric arc.
      Three men lost their lives at a distance of about 1,000 feet from the locality of explosion. They were overcome by the afterdamp. One of these men, Carl Jones, was a former boss at our Mine No. 9. He lost his life in an effort to save others.
      Ninety men were safely led out of the interior of the 1-2 east north by a person or persons in a very commendable manner. An error here might have meant many additional deaths from the afterdamp. Fortunately, a door had been blown off its hinges and prevented the forcing of afterdamp into the workings where these men were employed. Three men were brought out of the 1 3-14 north entry faces by the first rescuers, one man from old room 9 on 3 east outby the 3-4 E. panels and one from the east north parting.
      Loss of life, whether singly or collectively, is always a cause for regrets and for sympathy; regrets as to what might have been done, and sympathy for the sufferers and bereaved ones. Yet we feel that some advancement in safety has been accomplished when an explosion of such intense heat and potential violence has not propagated from the panel of its origin. It speaks well of the possibilities of high ash mine dust in the prevention of coal dust explosion propagation.
 
1928 Annual Coal Report24 - Fatal Accidents
      January 9, an explosion of gas occurred in Industrial Coal Company's No. 18 mine (now Peabody Coal Company's No. 18) causing the death of twenty-one men. The following table gives the name, occupation and dependents of the men killed:
 
Lloyd Bradley, machineman, aged 39 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
W. Brandon, loader, aged 41 years, married. He leaves a widow and four children.
 
C. P. Caraway, loader, aged 23 years. No dependents.
 
Gerald Day, loader, aged 21 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Ed. Dodd, loader, aged 57 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
C. W. Duggar, loader, aged 32 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Ray Farrell, loader, aged 41 years. No dependents
 
Walter Graves, loader, aged 25 years. No dependents
 
Neely Hall, loader, aged 33 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Albert Jones, machineman, aged 40 years, married. He leaves a widow and four children.
 
Carl Jones, face boss, aged 35 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Paul Kays, loader, aged 23 years. No dependents
 
Kelly Lawrence, loader, aged 31 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
George Mabier, loader, aged 42 years. No dependents
 
Dan McPhail, trapper, aged 26 years. No dependents.
 
John Mitchell, loader, aged 39 years, married. He leaves a widow and seven children.
 
Oral Simons, loader, aged 26 years. No dependents.
 
Leonard Smith, loader, aged 31 years, married. he leaves a widow and four children.
 
Aubra Stone, loader, aged 25 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Andy White, loader, aged 20 years. No dependents
 
S. Tanner, loader, aged 31 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.

Explosion in Old Ben No. 8
West Frankfort, Franklin County
      An explosion occurred in Old Ben Coal Corporation Mine No. 8 on the night shift at 2:30 a. m., Sunday, December the first, 1929. Seven men lost their lives instantly. A total of 24 men were in the mine, but none of the others were affected, many remaining to assist in possible rescue.
      The explosion occurred in the 20 north panel approximately 10,000 feet from the main shaft bottom, in territory that is being worked on the long-face retreating system, locally called slab-work. The flame and nearly all the force were confined to the 20 north panel. The explosion was localized to that panel because of the large room for expansion of explosion force and because of rock dust. Coal dust entered into the explosion, but only in the large areas of the long faces, and not on the entries, where rock dust had been applied.
      In the development for the long face method of mining, the inby 600 feet of the 20 north panel, 700 feet in length, was equally divided so that three pairs of wide entries were driven through to the next inby panel, making a solid block of coal 600 feet square, penetrated by three pairs of equidistant entries. These three pairs were the 1 and 2 slab, 3 and 4 slab, and the 5 and 6 slab. Work of retreating was begun in the farthest away corner from the 20th panel entrance, this being the inby end of the 5 and 6 slab entry. The retreating faces were V-shaped and the roof falls were partially controlled by timber and by occasional small pillars of coal. The coal taken is 8 feet in thickness, leaving approximately 20 inches of top coal for roof support against local shale falls. The overlying shale, some 60 to 100 feet in thickness, is a grey compact shale, but quite soft and weak, conforming with the general conditions of this coal field.
      Methane gas, in the Franklin County coal field, comes from two general sources. One is from the coal seam itself and found during development and extraction of the coal; the other is from the adjoining strata and remaining coal pillars when the overlying strata break, crushing the timbers and pillars. In the first, adequate ventilation can take care of the most unusual conditions. In the second, adequate ventilation can take care of the normal emission of gas, but when large areas cave quickly, whether in worked-out panels or slabs, such large quantities of methane gas may come with or following the falls, so that the gas may back up against an air current. Sufficient warning of such approaching conditions, locally called squeezes, is given by the cracking sound of crashing pillars. A general practice of getting material out of such localities with minimum loss of time has been developed, care being taken that all men be in a safe location when the crash comes; safe as to the falling of the roof and ribs, and safe as to possible gas ignition.
      Retreating work in slab No. 6 was nearly finished to the 20 north entry and roof falls had occurred at somewhat regular intervals. Retreating in No. 3 and 4 slabs was in progress and one fall of roof had occurred. No. 1 and 2 slabs were almost developed, being in readiness for retreat work in the near future.
      The last open space in slab No. 6, about 65 feet in length, was being watched at frequent intervals for signs of weight. The night examiner had examined the section four hours prior to the explosion, finding it clear of gas and the roof not working. The assistant night boss examined it two hours later, presumably finding it clear of gas, but finding the roof working. As was the practice, he took men to save the track material and began this work at once, having with him three men. These men were James Tabor, the assistant night boss, Dewey Baker, Jewel Baker and Veto Gardini. There were also two other men, E. E. Beardon and Henry Isaacs, on the 20 N. entry in the vicinity of the fifth slab entrance, whose duty it was to deliver water into barrels for the day operation of the power shovels. One of the regular examiners for the day shift, Thos. McDermott, had come from the west side of the mine, and was in about the center of slab No. 3. Such was the location of the seven men at the time of the explosion.
      All of the bodies were badly burned and death must have been almost instantaneous. Violence was not evident on any of the bodies except that of the mine examiner. Six of the bodies were recovered on the same day that the explosion occurred, but the body of the assistant night boss was not recovered until 47 hours after the explosion. This body was found 12 feet from the fall edge in slab No. 6, and under about 20 feet of shale. This part of the fall, and probably all of the fall, occurred after the explosion, for the body was burned; and much falling was heard during the advancement for the recovery of the bodies.
      There were also three electric locomotives in the section, one on the 20 N. at No. 5 slab entrance, and one in No. 2 slab entrance. Electric power was on the trolley wires, such wires extending along the 20 N. entry, less than 20 feet into slabs No. 5 and 6, 400 feet into slab No. 3, and about the same distance in slabs No. 1 and 2. The wire in slab No. 2 was connected to the wire in slab No. 1 at a point 200 feet inby the slab entrance.
      The sequence of events leading to the explosion may never be determined. It has not been established to the satisfaction of all concerned whether the explosion was started from gas or from a box of permissible explosives. This much is certain, that coal dust entered into the explosion, propagating it to include all the long face section, some 500 feet in extent in all directions. The large expansive area and the rock dust localized the explosion to that area.
      The explosion-affected territory was not badly wrecked. The mine resumed operation on Thursday morning, December 5, 1929.
 
1929 Annual Coal Report25 - Fatal Accidents
      December 1, at 2:30 a. m., an explosion of gas occurred in No. 8 mine, Old Ben Coal Corporation, causing the death of seven men. The usual data concerning these men is given below:
 
Dewey Baker, motorman, aged 31 years. He leaves three dependents.
 
Jewel Baker, triprider, aged 29 years. He leaves three dependents.
 
E. E. Berdon, motorman, aged 34 years. He leaves three dependents.
 
Vito Garidini, laborer, aged 32 years. He leaves two dependents.
 
Henry Isaacs, triprider, aged 25 years. He leaves two dependents.
 
Thomas McDermott, examiner, age 60 years. No dependents.
 
James Tabor, assistant night boss, aged 36 years. He leaves three dependents.

Explosion in Valier Mine
Valier, Franklin County
      An explosion occurred on the day shift at Valier Mine of the Valier Coal Company at 12:20 p. m., March 18, 1930, resulting in the death of four men and the serious injury of two others. At the time of the explosion there were 475 men in the mine, which was operating at about 60% capacity.
      The location of explosion was at the faces of the first southwest cross-entry, approximating one mile from the shaft bottom. The cross entries are three in number. At the faces there is a 12% upgrade for 150 feet. Number 1 and 2 entries had hand conveyors at the faces, and No. 3 had a short wall mining machine undercutting at the face, all on three phase AC current. An electric locomotive was switching cars near the second last crosscut, its cable attached to the trolley wire about 100 feet further outby from the motor.
      Approximately 15,000 cubic feet of air per minute was traveling across the faces from No. 1 to No. 3 entry, all faces having lead curtains. The examiner found the places clear prior to the day shift. The State mine inspector found it clear the day preceding, and the section boss found it clear an hour prior to the explosion. Four doors in the vicinity directed the air other than the stoppings and lead curtains. Two of these doors were on the middle entry, one inby the second last crosscut and the other 300 feet outby this point. These are known as check doors. One door was in the second last crosscut between No. 2 and No. 3 entries, and the other in the fifth last crosscut between No. 1 and 2 curtain. Any two of these doors being open (except one combination) would short the air from the face of No. 3 entry. Another door was at the 11th and 12th east about 900 feet from the face between No. 1 and No. 2 entries. If this door were open, it would short the air.
      Evidently, a short circuit of air occurred that caused gas to collect at the face of No. 3 entry that was being undercut, for it is here that the indications show source of origin. Evidently, the two inside doors, both near to each other in the vicinity of the second last crosscut, were blocked open by the haulage men, for they were on a steep grade and a very short time was required to get the load at the face of the No. 2 entry. However, this car was not loaded. A wait of several minutes, perhaps ten minutes, was made, during which time the full volume of air did not reach the face of the No. 3 entry. The change of cars was made and, at the time of the explosion, the loader in No. 2 had blocked his empty car and the motor was just leaving it. The motor and empty crashed down the grade and stopped in the door wreckage near the second last crosscut. It was in this crosscut, between the second and third entries, that most of the wreckage had accumulated.
      One man was killed at the face of No. 3 entry, but his partner escaped. This partner died 13 hours after the explosion. One man who was loading at the face of No. 2 entry lost his life, dying after being rescued but before reaching the surface. His partner escaped and assisted in the rescue work. There were 14 men in the explosion-affected vicinity.
      The three entries were rock dusted to within 75 feet of the faces. Rock dust was effective in stopping the propagation of the explosion. Just what ignited the gas is not yet known. The mining machine was in operation and the controller was left wide open. The possibility of ignition includes electricity, open flame, and the cutter-bit sparks. The undercutting was very hard, giving a remote possibility of ignition of gas from this source.
 
1930 Annual Coal Report26 - Fatal Accidents
      Three men were almost instantly killed in Valier Coal Company's mine, by an explosion of gas., and one died from injuries on April 12, 1930.
 
April 12, 1930, Thomas Gleghorn, motorman, age 28 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
March 18, 1930, Harvey Greenwood, miner, age not given, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
March 18, 1930, Jack Greenwood, machine man, age 41 years, married. He leaves a widow and four children.
 
March 18, 1930, Oran Maclin, miner, age 31 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.

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;

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

18 Forty-First Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1922
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1922

19 Forty-Second Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1923
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1923

20 Forty-Third Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1924
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1924

21 Forty-Fifth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1925
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois State Journal Co., Springfield, Illinois., 1926

22 Forty-Sixth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1926
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1927

23 Forty-Sixth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1927
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1928

24 Forty-Seventh Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1928
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1929

25 Forty-Eighth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1929
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Journal Printing Co., Springfield, ILL., 1930

26 Forty-Ninth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1930
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1931

 

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