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Illinois
Coal & Coal Mining
History & Genealogy

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Coal Mining Disasters in Illinois
1941 to 1950
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List of Illinois Coal Mine Disasters Reference Sources

Shot Explosion at Chicago, Wilmington & Franklin Coal Company
Orient No. 1
      A shot exploded prematurely in the Chicago, Wilmington & Franklin Coal Company Orient No. 1 mine on February 22, 1941, killing three men.
      A haulage grade by blasting bottoms was being made. While the three men were inspecting results of blasting, other shots went off through misunderstanding on other part of the crew.
 
1941 Annual Coal Report30 - Fatal Accidents
 
Jess Brown, of Orient, loader operator, aged 38 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Luther S. Jones, of West Frankfort, foreman, aged 50 years, married. He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Ike Nicholson, of Orient, shift man, aged 58 years, married. He leaves a widow.

Gas Explosion, Harrisburg, Saline County
      A gas explosion in Peabody Coal Company Harco mine No. 47, December 28, 1941, killed eight men. Two men escaped but were suffering from shock and the effect of black damp. They were expected to recover.
      The bodies of seven of the deceased were brought to the surface at once but search continued for the eighth.
      A crew of electricians had gone into the mine during the weekend holiday to finish dismantling of equipment that was being removed from a section about to be abandoned.
      Seven bodies were found a mile from the shaft at the generator room. The section in which they had been working was a half mile further. Apparently they had completed their job there and were returning to the shaft when the unexplained blast came. No rock fell.
      Rescue crews from Eldorado, Herrin, DuQuoin and Benton went into the mine. The Eldorado six man crew was first to enter at 6:50 a. m.
      William McElder, superintendent of Mine No. 47, went into the workings and directed the rescue work. Lloyd Anderson, superintendent of Peabody Mine No. 43 at Harrisburg, supervised above ground. Also on the job was Robert M. Medill of Springfield, State Director of the Department of Mines and Minerals.
      The crew entered the mine about 2:30 a. m. The first indication on the surface that all was not well was the discovery of a short circuit in the wiring system. Henry Dempsey, 56, night superintendent, went down to investigate. Not far from the shaft he discovered two men crawling painfully along. He aided them to the shaft and to safety. Because of the presence of gas, rescue work proceeded slowly and the bodies were not reached until 12:45 p. m. The accident happened about 3:30 a. m.
 
1941 Annual Coal Report30 - Fatal Accidents
 
McCoy Cobb, of Eldorado, electrician boss, aged 36 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Orval Daugherty, of Harco, electrician, aged 40 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Roy Donaldson, of Harco, electrician, aged 33 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
John Fletcher, of Harco, electrician, aged 41 years, married. He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Harry Holden, of Harco, mine examiner, aged 30 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Charles Pemberson, of Marion, electrician, aged 30 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Harold J. Smith, of Harco, electrician, aged 41 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
William Strange, of Harco, electrician, aged 46 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.

Steam Engine Turned Over, Northern Illinois Coal Company
No. 10 Mine
Wilmington, Will County
      Two miners were burned to death on March 16, 1942, and two others were critically injured. One of these injured men died March 18, 1942.
      A small locomotive overturned as it descended into a pit at the Northern Illinois Coal Company's strip mine. The victims were scalded by steam loosed when the engine overturned.
 
1942 Annual Coal Report31 - Fatal Accidents
 
Herman Eisenhour, of Wilmington, trackman, aged 43 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Peter J. Girot, of Braidwood, aged 27 years, single.
 
Robert D. Thorn, of Coal City, engineer, aged 57 years, married. He leaves a widow.

Drowning Accident, Eagarville, Macoupin County
      Four men were drowned in Superior Coal Company's No. 1 mine May 8, 1942. These men were drowned when the machine men cut through into an old abandoned mine adjacent to the newer project, allowing gas to infiltrate into the workings and water to rush in.
      At Eagarville in the Superior Coal Company's No. 1 Mine, a flood of water and gas, possibly from the adjacent abandoned Dorsey Mine which has not been operated for about 55 years which developed a break into this mine trapping four men. Four fatalities occurred from this when two men escaped and then returned to give aid to others that were trapped.
 
1942 Annual Coal Report31 - Fatal Accidents
      Machine men cut through into an old abandoned mine and a rush of water from the old mine caught these men.
 
Frank Bertagnoli, of Gillespie, foreman, aged 45 years, single. No dependents.
 
Frank DeSaint Jean, of Eagarville, machine man, aged 53 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Robert Edmiston, of Eagarville, foreman, aged 68 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Joseph Redolfi, of Eagarville, machine man, aged 40 years, married. He leaves a widow and one dependent child.

Roof Fall Accident
      On June 17, 1942, a rock fall at the Truax-Traer Coal Company's Burning Star "Drift" mine, located at Elkville, Jackson County, killed three men.
 
1942 Annual Coal Report31 - Fatal Accidents
 
J. Floyd Howard, of Johnston City, machine man, aged 47 years, married. He leaves a widow and one adult child.
 
Paul T. Kruvelis, of Johnston City, timberman, aged 55 years, single.
 
William L. Wakefiled of Pittsburg, driller, aged 46 years, married, died on June 19, 1942 from injuries received on June 17, 1942. He leaves a widow.
 

Powder Explosion
      A powder explosion at Peabody Coal Company's mine No. 24, Danville, Vermilion County, killed three men February 16, 1943. Two drillers had finished drilling a room when the tamper came in to their working place with about 25 pounds of permissible powder, some caps and some fuse. In some unknown manner the permissible exploded killing the tamper instantly. The two drillers were fatally injured and died the next day.
 
1943 Annual Coal Report32 - Fatal Accidents
 
Martin Chmura, of Westville, driller, aged 61 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Ben Gilbert, of Georgetown, driller, aged 61 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
John Wallace, of Westville, tamper, aged 36 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.

Fall of Rock
      On July 20, 1944, a rock fall at Consolidated Coal Company's No. 7 mine, Staunton, Macoupin County, killed three men.
      Work was being done preparing for the reopening of an entry that had been closed for 20 years. Work consisted of loading out debris, drilling and shooting bottom clay and boulders. Loading this material out and timbering was done where necessary. Six road timbers stood near the track on the right side, extending east to a crib some 40 feet distant.
      About 6:35 p. m. one of the timbers was removed and the roof was sounded. About 7:00 p. m. a second timber was removed and again the roof was sounded. The roof sounded fairly solid. At about 7:25 p. m. four shots were fired into the bottom clay and boulders. Each shot was fired with 1½ sticks of permissible explosive. It is assumed that these shots, being in close proximity to the two inby supporting props, had weakened the bases of the two props. A fall of rock occurred 30 minutes later. The loading machine was in operation at this time, which probably prevented hearing any small warning that the top was loosening. Rock or limestone about 40 feet long, 21 feet wide and 14 inches thick fell. The three men were killed by this fall.
      Rock 14 inches thick will sound solid with a sounding rod or pick even if ready to fall. A hard blow with a sledge might, with a well trained ear or touch, reveal such loose rock hazard.
 
1944 Annual Coal Report33 - Fatal Accidents
 
Arthur Brauer, of Mt. Olve, loader operator, aged 50 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Anton Sucky, of Staunton, driller, aged 43 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Robert Toeninges, of Staunton, driller, aged 67 years, married. He leaves a widow.

Mantrip Wreck
      On September 28, 1945, a collision of cars at Panther Creek Mines, Incorporated, Mine No. 4, Springfield, Sangamon County, killed three men.
      At 3:21 p. m., nine minutes before quitting time, the mine manager tried to phone the man at the inside generator station but could not get him. He then pulled the power off the outside generator. This shut off the power inside, thus getting telephone attention. Then the inside generator man went to the telephone and called the mine manager at the bottom to find out the trouble. The mine manager advised him that the bottom was blocked with loads and for him to hold the mantrip inside as he, the mine manager, was sending a trip of loads back into the first passing track. The generator man said, "Okay". The mantrip was not held and consequently had a collision with the trip of loads that was being sent back inside.
      The generator man stated afterwards that there was noise on the telephone line and he did not get all of the instructions. Three men were killed in the collision.
 
1945 Annual Coal Report34 - Fatal Accidents
 
Victor Carnissali, of Springfield, miner aged 58 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Anthony Greboski, of Springfield, miner, aged 62 years, single.
 
Anthony Wm. Schaaf, of Springfield, miner, aged 64 years, married. He leaves a widow.

Explosion, Centralia Coal Company Mine No. 5
Centralia, Washington County
      The Centralia Coal Company Mine No. 5 is located about two miles south of Centralia, Washington County, Illinois. A coal-dust explosion occurred in this mine at 3:26 p. m., March 25, 1947, resulting in the death of 111 men. Sixty-five deaths were due to burns and violence, and 46 deaths were due to breathing irrespirable gases resulting from combustion of the coal dust. One of the victims of the noxious gases was rescued but died after being taken to the surface. At the time of the explosion 142 men were in the mine; 24 escaped unaided and eight, including the one who later died, were rescued. Two hundred sixty-seven men were employed at the mine, 50 on the surface and 217 underground. Of the underground employees 75 worked on the night shift. The average production of coal amounted to approximately 2,200 tons per day.
General information pertaining to the mine:
 
1) In general the mine was very dry with the exception of local areas where it was necessary to pump water. No special measures were taken to allay coal dust at its source.
 
2) The hoisting shaft is 540 feet deep. A double-compartment down-cast air shaft 537 feet deep is located 1200 feet south of the hoisting shaft. The ventilating fan is located underground.
 
3) The mine operates in the Illinois No. 6 coal bed, which averages 76 inches in thickness at this mine. The immediate roof is medium-hard black shale from 1 foot to 5 feet in thickness. The main roof is strong limestone of approximately 30 feet in thickness. The floor is medium-hard fire clay.
 
4) The room and pillar method of mining was followed, and the pillars were not extracted. The main entries were driven two and three abreast. Room entries were turned right and left off the main entries at 800-foot intervals and were 12 feet in width.
 
5) Rooms, 28 to 30 feet in width, were turned on 60-foot centers off heading and air courses and were driven to a depth of 400 feet. Room and entry cross-cuts were at 60-foot intervals.
 
6) Ventilation was provided by a seven-foot aero-plane-type fan, operated blowing, and located about 100 feet from the bottom of the intake air shaft.
 
7) The mine was considered gassy by the Federal Bureau of Mines but was considered as non-gassy by the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals. Methane analysis as high as 0.7% normally had been found on one occasion ; however there is no record that gas had ever been detected with a flame safety lamp. A large number of oil and gas wells penetrated the coal bed but none were in open workings of the mine.
 
8) Heavy deposits of coal dust were present at the time of the explosion, along the roadways in working places, and on the roof, ribs, and timbers in working sections. Little effort had been made to load out excessive quantities of dust, and watering methods were not employed to allay dust at its source.
 
9) Rock dust had been applied in active haulage entries but was not maintained near the working face nor applied in rooms. In active entries rock dusting terminated from 500 to 1000 feet outby the face.
 
10) Explosibility tests on the Illinois No.. 6 coal bed, as conducted at the USBM experimental mine at Bruceton, Pennsylvania, showed that 33% incombustible matter was required to prevent ignition when no gas was present and 59% incombustible matter was required to prevent propagation under the same conditions. (See bulletin 167, p. 249)
 
11) Permissible explosives. Black Diamond No. 15, in eight-ounce cartridges were used for all blasting purposes. The explosives were detonated with No. 6 strength blasting caps and orange wax fuse. The fuse was ignited with open flame carbide lamps. Charges of explosives varied from one to two pounds.
 
12) Shot holes were charged during the working shift. Stemming of coal cuttings and surface clay was used and made up into prepared dummies of 14 inches length. None of the shot holes inspected contained more than one dummy and none of the holes were properly tamped. A number of charges were loose in the hole, and it was possible to remove some of the charges from the hole by pulling on fuse. A large number of holes were observed to be tamped with coal cuttings.
 
13) The mine was operating under normal conditions, and no unusual or abnormal conditions had been reported prior to the time of the explosion. No interruptions had occurred to the ventilating system. The barometric pressure was reported to be 29.1 inches of Hg on March 25 and 29.3 inches of Hg on March 24.
 
14) The drillers were also the shot firers, and they ignited the shots at the end of the working shift. The shot firers were given the signal to light the shots after all normal face operations had ceased and the men were in the man-trips or enroute thereto.
 
      Th explosion caused no property damage on the surface of the mine. No damage was caused on the 1 west main haulage road beyond 3000 feet outby the nucleus of the explosion. No damage was done to the 4 west main haulage, a distance of 2500 feet from the nucleus of the explosion. In the area near the nucleus of combustion there was considerable damage, consisting of demolishing stoppings and doors, damage to locomotives, extensive damage to cable-reel shuttle cars, tearing down of trolley and feeder lines, destruction of timbering permitting large roof falls which covered machinery and tore down electrical lines. It was estimated that approximately 30 days would be required to repair equipment, install trolley and feeder lines, remove debris from roadways, and complete other necessary work before operations could be resumed.
      The reports of the Bureau of Mines and State Department of Mines and Minerals agree that the point of origin of the explosion was at the head of the first west entry. In this area all forces were outby and the damage radiated from the area. There was no evidence of a blown-out shot at the face of the entry; however there was evidence that the top rib shot was underburdened since the shot did not pull all the coal at the right rib in the normal fashion.
      Neither the Federal nor State report reached conclusions as to the cause of the explosion, excepting that it was a coal dust explosion. It is, however, true that a blown-out shot of explosives, which had been stemmed with coal dust or an underburdened shot of explosives, could have ignited the coal dust. The dust cloud in which ignition took place could have been raised by the shot which ignited the dust, or by preceding shots in the same working place or the adjacent cross-cut.
 
Summary of Contributing Causes

      The mine was dry and dusty and contained heavy deposits of fine coal dust in all active working sections of the mine.
      Rock dust had not been applied in rooms nor in entries for a considerable distance outby the working faces.
      Methane had never been found in appreciable amounts and was not thought to be a contributing cause to the explosion.
      The explosion occurred at the end of the working shift, and all operations had ceased at the face excepting for blasting. Blasting was the only operation in progress which could have caused a dust cloud to be raised.
      Permissible explosives were being fired, and coal dust was being used for stemming.
      The propagation of the flame ceased in short distances after encountering rock dusted areas. On the 1 west main haulage road rock dust was not applied within the last 500 feet outby the face but propagation of the flame was smothered within 300 feet after encountering the rock dusted area.
 
Lessons to be Learned from the Explosion

      1) Mines which liberate little or no methane are not immune from widespread and tragic explosions if dry and dusty conditions exist there-in and adequate measures are not taken to control the dust hazard.
      2) This explosion forcefully demonstrates the need to re-evaluate the hazards of dust explosions. Heretofore, dusty conditions in mines have not been considered as constituting an imminent danger. In the future it may be necessary to withdraw the men from the mine, or from the portion where danger exists, until appropriate measures have been taken to remedy the dangerous conditions.
      3) Partial rock dusting of mines leads to a false sense of security. In this explosion, rock dusting the haulage entries did not prevent the flame from propagating from room to room through the cross-cuts. The conditions indicate that the explosion propagated itself mainly through rooms and died out as it reached rock dusted haulage roads and abandoned areas. Explosion hazards are mostly created at the face where dust is being made, and not on the haulage roads. The prevention of propagation of explosions from one room to another can only be accomplished by rock dusting all working places up to and including the last open cross-cut.
      4) Permissible explosives stemmed with coal dust and fired with a fuse in a dependent sequence are dangerous, and the right combination of circumstances may initiate combustion of coal dust suspended in the air.
      5) There is strong evidence to support the belief that 44 men working in two sections of the mine, not affected by flame or violence, could have saved themselves if they had been properly instructed in the principles of erecting barricades.
 
Acknowledgment

      In the preparation of this report free use has been made of data appearing in the following reports :
1. Final Report of Mine Explosion, No. 5 Mine, Centralia Coal Company, Centralia, Washington County, Illinois, March 25, 1947, by M. J. Ankeny, W. A. Gallagher, F. J. Smith, Frank Perz, and J. S. Malesky. United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines.
2. Inspection of Centralia No. 5 Mine, by W. Gill, Wm. Mitchell, M. Reak, B. Schull. State of Illinois Mining Board of the Department of Mines and Minerals.
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Centralia Coal Company No. 5 Mine, Wamac, Washington County, Illinois, March 25, 1947
Excerpt form the "Centralia Sentinel", Centralia, Illinois, March 25, 1947
Recover 35 Dead From Pit; Hope Fades For Others
No. 5 Mine Disaster Ranks With Greatest In Nation's History
      The twisted and broken bodies of 18 miners were brought to the surface from Centralia Coal Company's No. 5 mine this morning, increasing to 35 the number of known dead in an explosion Tuesday and leaving 76 still trapped in the pit and given "no chance at all" by a mine rescue squad leader.
      A heavy snow fell over the grim setting as rescue squads, after working through the early morning hours, brought the second group of dead miners from 540 feet below the ground. There were only a few persons at the pit as the bodies were placed in ambulances and taken to a temporary morgue in a nearby bus garage. last night 16 bodies were removed to the garage. Earlier one miner removed from the mine on Tuesday died.
      An unidentified rescue worker said the bodies of the 18 brought from the pit today were twisted and bruised and clothing on some were burned, indicating they had been nearer to the explosion than the 16 miners who were found last night.
      As the death toll mounted, with a rescue leader predicting it would reach 111, company officials said rescue attempts would be pushed, "we're not going to give up."
Predicts 111 Dead
      The toll of 111 dead predicted by William J. Rowekamp, rescue leader and recording secretary of the Centralia local of the AFL United Mine Workers whose members worked the mine, would rank the disaster as the greatest in the nation's coal fields since 195 lost their lives in 1928 at Mather, Pa.
      The company presented a revised total of the number of miners who had been in the mine at the time of the blast.. Vice President W. P. Young said 142 men had been in the mine and 33 had been removed alive. Earlier he said 151 had been below and 30 had been rescued alive..
      Rowekamps's views were echoed by other rescue workers who said that not a single victim has been taken alive from the mine since Tuesday night several hours after the explosion.
      One miner helped out at that time died later. Sixteen bodies were removed over a half-hour period last night and eighteen more were being removed early today
      Opinions varied widely as to the length of time that would be required to complete exploration of the more than 3½ mile tunnel, 540 feet below ground, in which the trapped men had been working.
      Driscoll O. Scanlan, an Illinois state mine inspector, said because of the slow progress it might take a week to probe to the end of the seven-foot high passage. Mule power was being used in preference to machinery for fear of electrical sparks detonating gases collected in the workings. Rescue workers wore gas masks. Side diggings off the east-west passage were being boarded up to assure better ventilation for rescue workers.
      However, a federal mine inspector who asked that his name not be used, said the squad of 30 who worked grimly through the night had "checked all but two entries on the east-west passage" and said he believed the men still unaccounted for were in these side passages.
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Relatives Keep Vigil
      Bodies taken from the mine were moved temporarily to an improvised morgue in a nearby bus garage. Relatives of the miners held a vigil at the mine entrance during the day and early evening yesterday but as the tedious rescue work far underground proceeded slowly and a heavy snow began falling in 25-degree temperatures, went to their homes.
      Meanwhile there were these other developments :
     1. In Washington the U. S. Senate ordered an investigation of the disaster after Senator Brooks (R-Ill) asserted there had been violations of safety codes under federal administration. Soft coal mines generally have been in government possession since last spring. At Centralia Vice President Young of the coal company withheld comment on the Senate investigation until he had been more fully informed.       2. Rowekamp made public a letter the union local had sent to Governor Dwight Green of Illinois a year ago asking the governor "to please save our lives, to please make the (state) Department of Mines and Minerals enforce the laws (at the mine) . . . . before we have a dust explosion."
      Governor Green's office said in a statement that such a letter had been received and that the Governor had requested the department concerned to give it "full and complete consideration." The Governor also released a report to him from the committee named by the state department to investigate charges made in the letter, which related that "the complaint sounds a good deal worse than it really is."
      3. Circuit Judge Ralph L. Maxwell said in a statement he would instruct the Washington county grand jury to conduct an inquiry to determine if any criminal negligence was involved in the explosion. The jury will meet next April 14.
      4. A state inspection of the mine made a week before the disaster showed the mine was "not adequately rock dusted," that dirty haulage roads should be cleaned and sprinkled and ventilation increased at various points. The inspection report also stated recommendations of previous inspections had "not been complied with and should be complied with."
      Young of the coal company said in an answer to this that "we have been working on these recommendations. Some can be accomplished in a few days but others take several months, which accounts for their appearance in several reports."
      Rock dust is finely ground rock spread in mines for the purpose of reducing explosion hazards.
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1947 Annual Coal Report35 - Fatal Accidents
 
Joe Altadonna, of Sandoval, timberman, aged 60 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Rodrigo Alvarex, of Beckmeyer, timberman, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
Joe Ballatini, of Centralia, driller, aged 58 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Pietro Ballantini, of Centralia, driller, aged 69 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Alvin M. Barnes, of Centralia, foreman, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Nick Basola, of Sandoval, clean-up man, aged 43 years, married, He leaves a widow and five children.
 
Harry A. Berger, of Centralia, foreman, aged 54 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Celso Biagi, of Centralia, tracklayer, aged 62 years, single.
 
Dominick Beneventi, of Centralia, machine helper, aged 64 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Joe Bryant, of Sandoval, motorman, aged 65 years, married, He leaves a widow and six children.
 
Edward Bude, of Centralia, repairman, aged 54 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Otto Buehne, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 62 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Raymond C. Buehne, of Centrtalia, machine helper, aged 30 years, married. He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Thomas M. Bush, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 563 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
John Busse, of Centralia, machine operator, aged 59 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Charlie Cagle, of Centralia, timberman, aged 54 years, married, He leaves a widow and four children.
 
Theo. V. Carriaux, of Centralia, foreman, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Arthur H. Carter, of Centralia, tracklayer, aged 54 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Anton Chirrottino, of Sandoval, tracklayer, aged 65 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Paul Comper, of Centralia, machine man, aged 53 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Clifford Copple, of Centralia, motorman, aged 42 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Frank Copple, of Centralia, brattice man, aged 38 years, single.
 
Leo R. Dehn, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 53 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Eugene Erwin, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 45 years, married, He leaves a widow and two children.
 
George Evans, of Sandoval, clean-up man, aged 43 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Frank Famera, of Centralia, machine man, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Andrew Farley, of Beckemeyer, clean-up man, aged 58 years, married, He leaves a widow.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
Walter Fetgatter, of Centralia, machine man, aged 55 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
John Figielek, of Centralia, machine man, aged 48 years, single with one child dependent.
 
Wm. F. Fortmeyer, of Irvington, buggy operator, aged 25 years, married, He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Ray W. Fouts, of Centralia, triprider, aged 47 years, married, He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Odia Lee Francis, of Centralia, brattice man, aged 70 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Luther J. Frazier, of Beckemeyer, driller, aged 41 years, married, He leaves a widow and two children.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
Martin Freeman, Jr., of Sandoval, tracklayer, aged 20 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Martin Freeman, Sr., of Centralia, machine man, aged 39 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Albert J. Friend, of Richview, triprider, aged 36 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Brund Gaertner, of Centralia, machine operator, aged 47 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Angelo Gallassini, of Centralia, driller, aged 61 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Dominick Gervi, of Sandoval, timberman, aged 65 years, married, He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Tony Giovanini, of Sandoval, timberman, aged 65 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Joseph Gerotti, of Centralia, triprider, aged 36 years, single.
 
John O. Grotti, of Mt. Vernon, tracklayer, aged 32 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Louis Grotti, of Centralia, driller, aged 45 years, single.
 
Adolph Gutzler, of Centralia, machine helper, aged 48 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Fred W. Gutzler, of Centralia, driller, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
John H. Gutzler, of Centralia, machine man, aged 63 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
John W. Gutzler, of Centralia, foreman, aged 54 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Henry Hoeinghaus, of Woodlawn, motorman, aged 56 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Ed. Hofstetter, of Centralia, tracklayer, aged 68 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Gustave Hohman, of Centralia, motorman, aged 54 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Ned L. Jackson, of Odin, buggy operator, aged 34 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Warrie L. Jackson, of Centralia, motorman, aged 55 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Henry Knicker, of Centralia, trackman, aged 59 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Philip Knight, of Centralia, machine helper, aged 46 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Joseph Koch, Sr., of Beckemeyer,clean-up man, aged 65 years, married, He leaves a widow and two children.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
Charles Kraus, of Centralia, recovery man, aged 52 years, single.
 
Fred Laughaunn, of Centralia, machine man, aged 49 years, married, He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Domenico Lenzini, of Centralia, timberman, aged 59 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Pete Lenzini, of Centralia, driller, aged 62 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
John Mazeka, of Beckemeyer, driller, aged 46 years, single.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
Miles McCullum, of Centralia, driller, aged 65 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Chas. McGreavey, of Centralia, machine man, aged 57 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Clarence McHenry, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
William Mentler, of Centralia, tracklayer, aged 61 years, single.
 
Fred Moore, of Centralia, timberman, aged 49 years, married, He leaves a widow and three children.
 
Elmer G. Moss, of Sandoval, machine helper, aged 33 years, married, He leaves a widow and four children.
 
H. W. Niepoetter, of Centralia, machine man, aged 42 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Chas. Oestreich, of Centralia, driller, aged 61 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
George Panceroff, of Centralia, triprider, aged 24 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Martin Pasola, of Sandoval, foreman, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Frank Paulauskis, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 62 years, single.
 
John T. Pawlisa, of Centralia, tracklayer, aged 22 years, single
 
Charles L. Peart, of Sandoval, tracklayer, aged 60 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Jos. H. Peiler, of Beckemeyer, machine helper, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow and one other dependent.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
Walter Pelker, of Dubois, timberman, aged 31 years, married, He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Alva Petrea, of Centralia, generator operator, aged 56 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Peter Piasse, of Sandoval, machine operator, aged 46 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Julius Piazzi, of Centralia, rock man, aged 27 years, single..
 
Louis Piazzi, of Centralia, machine man, aged 63 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
John Pick, of Centralia, machine operator, aged 56 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
John Placek, of Beckemeyer, machine operator, aged 45 years, married, He leaves a widow and three children.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
Alfred O. Pollacci, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 69 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
George Powell, of Odin, trackman, aged 40 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Richard Privette, of DuBois, timberman, aged 65 years, married, He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Glen Purcell, of Centralia, motorman, aged 34 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Nick Reggo, of Centralia, timberman, aged 57 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Jacob Rethard, of Centralia, machine operator, aged 60 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Forest Rhodes, of Sandoval, repairman, aged 45 years, married, He leaves a widow and five children.
 
Carl Rohde, of Centralia, machine man, aged 46 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Daniel C. Sanders, of Irvington, driller, aged 66 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
H. W. Saundermeyer, of Centralia, timberman, aged 47 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Jacob Schmidt, of Centralia, driller, aged 56 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Archie Schofield, of Centralia, machine man, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
L. G. Shaw, of Centralia, buggy operator, aged 44 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Anton Skrobul, of Beckemeyer, machine man, aged 63 years, married, He leaves a widow.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
Clarence Smith, of Centralia, foreman, aged 56 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Ray O. Smith, of Centralia, foreman, aged 56 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Andrew Spinner, of Sandoval, trackman, aged 51 years, single.
 
Joseph Spinner, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 57 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Alfred Stevens, of Beckemeyer, machine operator, aged 53 years, married. He leaves a widow.
      See Monument : Beckemeyer Coal Miner Memorial
 
James Tabor, of Centralia, driller, aged 42 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Stanley Teckus, of Centralia, timberman, aged 54 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Anthony Tickus, of Centralia, recovery man, aged 24 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Anton Tillmkan, of Centralia, clean-up man, aged 67 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Emmett Uhls, of Sandoval, machine helper, aged 49 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Dude Vancil, of Centralia, motorman, aged 46 years, married, He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Joe Vancil, of Centralia, foreman, aged 50 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Mark L. Watson, of Centralia, pumper, aged 71 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Joe Zinkus, of Centralia, timberman, aged 54 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 
Max Zonarinis, of Centralia, timberman, aged 65 years, married, He leaves a widow.
 

Explosion, Old Ben Coal Corporation Mine No. 8
West Frankfort, Franklin County
      The Old Ben Coal Corporation Mine No. 8 is located in the southern outskirts of West Frankfort, Franklin County, Illinois. An explosion of methane gas, accompanied by a limited combustion of coal dust, occurred in this mine at 12:35 p. m., July 24, 1947, resulting in the death of 27 men. All of the deaths were due to burns and violence resulting from the explosion. Four men in the immediate explosion area were rescued but one man died approximately ten hours after being taken to the surface. At the time of the explosion 264 men were in the mine, and all those not in the immediate area of the explosion escaped, unaided. A number of the men did not know an explosion had occurred until after reaching the surface. Four hundred ninety-five men were employed at the mine, of whom 382 men were employed underground in two shifts. The average production of coal amounted to approximately 3,500 tons per day. The mine had experienced two previous explosions on January 14, 1921, and December 1, 1929, which resulted in the death of eight men and injury to 20 others.
 
General Information Concerning the Mine

      The hoisting shaft is 464 feet deep and is used as an upcast. An additional upcast, 464 feet deep, is located 285 feet west of the hoisting shaft. The intake air shaft is 464 feet deep and is located 6,312 feet south of the hoisting shaft. The ventilating fan is located on the surface, is of the centrifugal type, operated blowing, and delivers approximately 118,000 cubic feet per minute at the downcast.
      The room and pillar method of mining is practiced, with each pair of room entries forming a panel. The barrier pillars are extracted. The explosion occurred in the 13 and 14 east entries off the main south entry, where barrier pillars were being pulled. The 13 and 14 east entries had been advanced and room panels finished to the 21 and 22 north and south room-panel entries. The barrier pillars had been extracted from the head and back to the pillar between the 8 and 9 north and south room-panel entries. The 13 east entry was the parting and haulage entry and was on return air. The 14 east entry was on intake air, and track had been installed for pillar pulling.
      The 13 and 14 east entries are approximately 10,100 feet south of the main hoisting shaft, approximately 4,100 feet from the face on the main south entry, and approximately 3,700 feet from the auxiliary air and escape shaft. The barrier pillars are approximately 500 feet long and 225 feet in width.
      The mine operates in the Illinois No. 6 coal bed, which averages 90 inches at this mine. The mine is considered gassy by the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals and by the United States Bureau of Mines. Methane gas had been detected, by the use of the flame safety lamp, 120 times in the 60 days previous to the last inspection by the State mining inspector on May 28, 1947.
      Cardox was used for breaking down coal. However, Airdox had been installed and was in use in one section at the time of the explosion. Coal was broken down off-shift and after the men had been removed from the mine. The mine was well rock-dusted on the floor, ribs, and roof; and in addition rock-dust bags were installed in the 13 and 14 east entries. Rock dust had been applied in the 13 and 14 east entries the night before the explosion.
      The mine employed six certified examiners for pre-shift examination of the mine. Certified face-bosses made on-shift inspections for gas and other hazards. Rules prohibiting smoking had been adopted but there was considerable evidence to indicate that the men are continuing to smoke underground.
 
General Information Concerning the Explosion

      The mine was operating normally and no unusual conditions had been reported prior to the explosion. The ventilating fan was operating properly, and no interruptions to ventilation had occurred.
      The mine examiner's report for July 24 showed normal conditions and did not show the presence of gas, nor had gas been reported in the examiner's book for the previous 13 working days. The examiner's report showed 6,600 cubic feet of air per minute at the last open crosscut. The State mine inspector found 12,800 cubic feet of air during his last inspection on May 28. Because of a roof fall the examiner could not examine beyond a distance approximately 500 feet inby the last working place (200 feet inby 10 north and south panels).
      On the day of the explosion the barometric pressure was recorded as 29.78-29.82 inches of mercury, by three separate barometers in the immediate vicinity. The barometer had been almost constant for three consecutive days.
      Damage from the explosion was confined to the immediate area in the 13 and 14 east entries. Two concrete-block stoppings and three ventilating doors were destroyed. Cross bars and timbers were blown out, permitting a few small roof falls. No extensive damage was done to the equipment, and the equipment was recovered during the night of July 24-25.
      Five State mine inspectors and two State mine rescue teams assisted in rescue work and recovery of the bodies. The last body was located at 11:30 p. m. and was brought to the surface about 12:30 a. m., July 25.
      Following the explosion frequent inspections were made for methane gas, with flame safety lamps, but none was reported. The Federal Bureau of Mines had reported methane contents of approximately 0.35% in a previous inspection.
      All forces resulting from the explosion were outby from the abandoned workings. Exploration could not be carried further than 200 feet inby the 9 and 10 panels because of a fall. The flame of the explosion ceased at approximately the 5 and 6 panels, and the force of the explosion ceased at approximately the 3 and 4 panels.
      The last working place was inby the 7 and 8 panels. The trolley wire extended approximately 100 feet inby the 7 and 8 panel, and the track extended approximately 150 feet inby the end of the trolley.
      The controllers on all motors, the cutting machine, the loading machine, and drills, were found in the off position. A drill had been mounted in a room outby the 7 north panel but, while the nips were on the trolley wire, the drill had not been operated.
      A gathering motor with one empty car was found on the 1 3 haulage entry at the 8 north panel. The body of the motorman on the motor was found about 60 feet in by the 8 south panel on the 14 entry, together with five other bodies. The nip of the motor was on the trolley wire. The gathering motor had gone inby, prior to the explosion, with empty cars and had removed loaded cars from rooms inby the 8 north panel and spotted empty cars in these rooms. Testimony of two of the three survivors (see Appendix A) indicated they were sitting on a motor out by the 5 north panel and watching the motor go inby when the explosion occurred. This testimony can apparently be discounted because the motor had been in by a sufficient time to do switching. The third survivor estimated he had seen the motor go in by approximately 10 minutes before the explosion, and this seems more reasonable.
      Heavy deposits of coke were found on the inby side of timbers and coal surfaces inby the area where men were working and beyond the 10 south panel. Nearly all of the props (very tight from roof pressure) had been loosened by the explosion and piled cross-cross near the 10 south panel entrance. A few remaining props were loosened from the roof and these were leaning westward (outby). The inspection party agreed that the violence was due west, was very strong, and the temperature was very high in the area near 10 south panel.
      In the area near the 7 and 8 north and south panel soot markings on the roof crossed room necks without entering the rooms, with the exception of room 2 inby 8 north panel, which contained soot markings and a medium amount of coke particles. In this room the forces were definitely from the face toward the entry.
      The explosion was definitely due to the ignition of an accumulation of methane gas and was accompanied, on a small scale, by combustion of coal dust. The explosion failed to propagate, and was confined to a small localized section, as a result of recent and liberal applications of rock dust by the generalized method and by bag suspension; and both methods were effective in smothering the combustion of the coal dust. Rock dust will effectively prevent the propagation of coal combustion, but it does not prevent the ignition of methane gas nor does it prevent the propagation of methane gas flame. The combustion of coal dust was very largely confined to the area inby the active working places.
      The loading machine and cutting machine were located outby the 7 north panel. The loading machine had broken down 1½ hours prior to the explosion, and was partly dismantled for repairs. The cutting machine was parked, and neither machine was connected to the trolley.
      Smoke and fumes, indicating an active fire, were found in the vicinity of room 7 inby 10 south panel during the inspection on July 25. Because of the probable presence of an active fire in the abandoned workings, the 13 and 14 east entries were sealed near the main south entry.
 
Possible Causes of the Explosion

      The possibility of ignition of the methane gas by drills, the loading machine, and cutting machine, can be discounted because none of the machines were in operation at the time of the explosion. The possibility of ignition of the methane gas by drills, the loading machine, and cutting machine, can be discounted because none of the machines were in operation at the time of the explosion.
      The possibility of ignition of the gas by men smoking in the area cannot be disregarded. Burned match stubs and other evidence of smoking was found in the mine and in the cars of mantrips. Employees taking part in the rescue work following the explosion deposited matches and smoking materials above ground before re-entering the mine. During the process of identification of the bodies in the temporary morgue, matches and other smoking materials were recovered from at least seven, and perhaps more of the bodies. The evidence definitely indicates that employees were smoking underground in spite of the fact that a no-smoking rule was in force. There is a very good possibility that the ignition of gas was caused by smoking in room 2 inby the 8 north panel, (bodies were found near the face of this room), for it was in this room that explosion forces were observed to be outby, and soot and coke particles were in evidence. There could have been an accumulation of gas in this room, prior to the explosion, in spite of the fact that no gas was found following this explosion. It is also possible that gas could have moved into the active working area from the abandoned workings, and ignition of this gas could have been caused by smoking, and the flame could have followed a gas trailer into the abandoned workings. Because of the tight area in the abandoned works the force of the explosion would have rebounded into the active workings and could have been accompanied by the combustion of coal dust, which was smothered by the rock dust. At least one person in the inspection party initially proposed that the nucleus of ignition was in this area, even though no known source of ignition was then in evidence. The testimony of one of the survivors speaks of a number of pressure waves being felt.
      The possibility of the ignition of the gas by the gathering motor at the 8 north panel is questionable because there is no positive evidence that the motor was in operation at the time of the explosion. Since the motor has been switching in the immediate area it is more reasonable to suspect that the ignition would have occurred when the motor entered the area. Since the motor was located at the 8 north panel it is reasonable to expect that the flame and force of the explosion would have penetrated the 7 and 8 panels, but this was not the case to any appreciable extent. The body of the motorman for the motor was found about 60 feet in by the 8 south panel on the 14 entry. For the body to be in this location there are three possibilities: (a) the motorman was in the 14 entry visiting with five other men at the time of the explosion; (b) the body was blown through the demolished door in the crosscut by the force of the explosion, but the motor was not located opposite the crosscut; (c) the motorman walked into the 14 entry following the explosion, but this is scarcely possible when the force of the explosion in this area is considered, and the fact that men in nearby rooms were apparently killed almost instantly.
      The possibility that gas accumulated in the abandoned workings and was ignited by (a) spontaneous combustion of mine wastes of gob, or (b) sparks produced by roof falls is supported by the evidence and data collected. Smoke and fumes were observed at approximately room 7 inby 8 south panel which was indicative of the presence of a fire in the abandoned area. Whether the fire existed prior to the explosion is of course unknown. The odor of a gob fire is usually easy to detect, but a fire could have existed from spontaneous combustion of old timbers, rags, or paper waste. It is also entirely possible for high-temperature sparks to be created by falls of rock and pyrites from the roof.
 
Conclusions and Lessons Learned

      1. The explosion was caused by the ignition of an accumulation of methane gas and was accompanied, on a small scale, by the combustion of coal dust.
      2. The exact source and cause of the explosion could not be determined and is unknown. It is believed the source could have been: (a) in the abandoned areas, or (b) in room 2 inby the 8 north panel. The cause of ignition could have been: (a) spontaneous combustion or sparks caused by a fall of roof, or (b) smoking by personnel.
      3. No data or evidence have been found which indicate the explosion was due to the negligence, or violation of State Mining Laws, by any individual or group of individuals now alive.
      4. The main lessons learned from this explosion are: (a) where active working places are adjacent to abandoned areas, a hazard may be created by accumulations of gas in the abandoned areas. Abandoned areas should be properly ventilated and examined, or when proper ventilation and examination become impossible the areas should be sealed off from the active working areas. A ruling to this effect has subsequently been made by the mining board; (b) smoking by personnel in gassy mines is extremely hazardous. A State law prohibits smoking in gassy mines and the personnel in such mines should not consider it to be their personal right to violate the law and endanger the lives of all personnel in the mine.
 
1947 Annual Coal Report35 - Fatal Accidents
 
Clesta Berra, of Herrin, timberman, aged 60 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Herbert D. Bidwell, of West Frankfort, electrician, aged 49 years, married. He leaves a widow
 
Thomas F. Bower, of West Frankfort, tracklayer, aged 25 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
J. Martin Childers, of West Frankfort, clean-up man, aged 74 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Hiram B. Chitwood, of Johnston City, tracklayer, aged 22 years, single. He leaves a dependent mother.
 
Peter DeJulius, of West Frankfort, electrician, aged 42 years, married. He leaves a widow and five children.
 
Arthur Fritts, of West Frankfort, tracklayer, aged 29 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Gustave Gaubautz, of West Frankfort, clean-up man, aged 48 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Gus G. Grant, of Johnston City, tracklayer, aged 59 years, married. He leaves a widow
 
George D. Griffith, of West Frankfort, asst. mine manager, aged 41 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Louis Marlow, of Herrin, tracklayer, aged 43 years, single.
 
Thomas McPheron, of Johnston City, timberman, aged 64 years, married. He leaves a widow nd one child.
 
Adolph Nickelvich, of West Frankfort, driller, aged 36 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Louis F. Owens, of Johnston City machine man, aged 51 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Thomas M. Palmer, of West Frankfort, triprider, aged 41 years, single. He leaves a dependent child.
 
Domenico Pircentini, of West Frankfort, tracklayer, aged 67 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
George Raymond, of West Frankfort, clean-up man, aged 60 years, single.
 
John Sebben, of Johnston City, timberman, aged 57 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Willie Ray Smith, of Thompsonville, driller, aged 46 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Curtis O. Stagner, of West Frankfort, motorman, aged 43 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 
Raymond C. Stevens, of Benton, machine helper, aged 32 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Giles C. Summers, of Benton, tracklayer, aged 46 years, married. He leaves a widow
 
Horace M. Walton, of West Frankfort, triprider, aged 44 years, single. He leaves a dependent mother.
 
Robert W. Wicker, of West Frankfort, clean-up man, aged 62 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Willis Willard, of Marion, machine man, aged 41 years, married. He leaves a widow and six children.
 
James T. Wilson, of West Frankfort, machine operator, aged 37 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
John P. Yattoni, of West Frankfort, triprider, aged 32 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child.
 

Explosion, The Chicago, Wilmington and Franklin Coal Company
Orient No. 2
West Frankfort, Franklin County
      The Chicago, Wilmington and Franklin Coal Company, Orient Mine No. 2, is located in the northwestern outskirts of West Frankfort, Franklin County, Illinois. An explosion of methane gas occurred in this mine at 7:30 p. m., August 14, 1947, resulting in the death of three men and slight injury to two others. The deaths were due to violence and burns from the explosion. Eighty-nine men were in the mine at the time of the explosion and, excepting for the three fatalities and two injured men, all escaped from the mine unaided. The mine employed a total of 1,150 men, of which 925 were employed underground in two shifts. The average daily production of coal amounted to 10,000 tons.
 
General Information Concerning the Explosion

      The explosion occurred near the face of the 15 north entry off the 23 west main north. The area was under development, and the face was 655 feet away from the 23 west north entries. The 15 and 16 north entries are 4,435 feet from the main north haulage. The 23 and 24 west north entries are 1,915 feet north of No. 4 up-cast shaft, and 5,300 feet north of No. 3 down-cast shaft.
      The mine was operating under normal conditions: no irregularities had been reported nor had there been an interruption in the main ventilation system. The explosion occurred a short time after the men had entered the explosion area, at the beginning of the night shift. The mine had not operated during the day shift on July 14, 1947. The barometric pressure was comparatively steady at 29.70 inches of mercury.
      Mine inspectors, J. Golden, E. Edmonds, E. McCluskey and J. Sneddon, and mine rescue teams from Benton and Herrin assisted in the rescue work following the explosion. Assistant Director Robert Weir, Mine Officer, M. Reak, and mine inspectors J. Golden, E. Edmonds, and Ray McCluskey went underground on the afternoon of July 15 for the purpose of inspecting the explosion area and collecting data concerning the cause of the explosion. Mine Officer M. Reak prepared a written report of the inspection for the Department of Mines and Minerals.
      The explosion was due to the ignition of an accumulation of methane gas near the face of the 15 north entry. The flame ceased at approximately the 1 and 2 stubs (450) feet outby the face in 15 N. entry, and ceased approximately 75 feet from the face of the 16 N. entry. The force of the explosion ceased outby the 13 and 14 N. entry in 23 and 24 N. W. entries. The two men who were slightly injured were approximately 25 feet outby the 23 N. and S. entries on the 23 N. W. entry. These two men were struck by coal particles, but experienced no difficulty in getting into the air course and escaping.
      All brattices and trap doors on the 15 and 16 N. entries were blown out. Two brattices on the main entry east and two brattices on 23 E. entry (past 15 and 16 N.) were blown out. Eleven of twelve brattices in 1, 2, 3 and 4 stubs were blown out. An 8 ton gathering motor parked at 1 and 2 stubs on 15 N. entry was damaged and the reel had been blown toward the mouth of the entry. A cutting machine was parked a few feet inby the 3 and 4 stubs on the 16 N. entry, but the machine was not damaged. A drill post had been mounted in the 16 N. entry where the 5 and 6 stubs were being turned. The place had been partly drilled, but the drilling had been done the day before. The drill lay on the ground and had not been used on this shift. The blower fans were located approximately 15 feet outby the last open crosscut on the 15 N. entry. One of the blowers ventilated the face of the 15 N. entry. The other blower had tubing attached, which passed through the last open crosscut and down the right rib of the 16 N. entry, and was used to ventilate the face of the 16 N. entry. These two blowers were overturned, but were in operating condition after the explosion.
      In the 15 N. entry a cutting machine was located near the face and had started cutting a cross-cut between the 15 and 16 N. entries. One cut had been taken on each entry and, if the cut on the 15 N.. entry had been completed, the cross-cut would have been through and completed. The cutting machine had sumped in approximately one foot.
      There was only one open-cross-cut on the 15 and 16 N. entries. The distance from the inside rib of the last open cross-cut to the face was 55 feet. Rock dust had been adequately applied to about the last open cross-cut.
      The 15 and 16 N. entries had been opened since the last State inspection, and air readings were not available in State reports. Mr. Charles Pullen reported 10,080 cubic feet per minute of air in the last open cross-cut just past the 3 and 4 stubs on July 10, 1947. A U. S. Bureau of Mines report of inspection showed 9,000 cubic feet of air per minute and 0.83 per cent of methane at the last open cross-cut near 1 and 3 stubs. No entries concerning ventilation had been made in the examiner's book by the mine examiner.
      The bodies of two fatalities were found approximately 15 feet outby the cutting machine on the 15 N. entry. The third body was found at the right rib and near the last cross-cut on the 16 N. entry.
      Two men had gone into the 15 N. entry, a few minutes before the explosion, to get a Clarkson loading machine. These men had parked the gathering motor at the 1 and 3 stubs and taken the loading machine out onto the 33 W. N. entry and had gone approximately 1000 feet east when the explosion occurred. These men were not injured. These two men later testified that no doors were open on the 15 and 16 N. entries when they were in the entries to get the loading machine.
      The cutting machine at the face on the 15 N. entry had just reached a level area after completing a plus 10 percent grade. The entry between the last two stubs was uphill and afforded an excellent opportunity for gas to collect and not be moved away from the face.
      Gas was found in all the places on the 15 and 16 N. entries during the inspection on the following day. This gas had collected on account of the uphill grade and because of the small amount of air being directed into the entries until permanent ventilation could be restored.
      The examiner's report for the day shift shows the presence of gas on August 5. 11 and 12. and in the 16 N. entry and gas on August 8 in the 15 N. entry. The night examiner last reported gas in the 15 N. entry on August 7. These entries had not been examined by the night examiner on August 14.
      Testimony offered at a hearing before the Mining Board on August 18 indicates these entries were examined at 1 :40 P. M. on August 14, and gas had not been detected. The night mine manager testified he had instructed the face boss to examine the entries, and the miners were instructed not to enter the area until after the examination had been made. The face boss was delayed in reaching the area, and the miners entered before an examination had been made. Because the mine had not been examined before the miners entered there was a violation of the General Mining Laws, Section 19, paragraph 20 (a)-5, therefore, the certificate of competency of the night mine manager was suspended by the Mining Board.
 
Probable Causes of the Explosion
1.  The explosion was definitely due to the ignition of an accumulation of gas near the face of the 15 N. entry.
2.  The cause for the accumulation of gas is unknown, but was probably because of an interruption of ventilation due to one or more of the following:
A.  A trap door left open ; however, the evidence does not support this reason.
B.  A fall of coal in the entry which could have torn down the tubing attached to the blowers.
C.  A power failure resulting in the blowers not operating before the men entered the area, allowing the gas to accumulate.
3.  The cause of the ignition of the gas is unknown, but may have been due to the following:
A.  Electrical arcs from either the cutting machine or blower fans.
B.  Sparks caused by the cutting bits encountering hard cutting conditions. The cutting machine was operated following the explosion and hard cutting was not indicated.
C.  The possibility of smoking by personnel is not excluded. The undertaker stated no smoking materials were found on the men, but it is well known that smoking takes place in this mine.
1947 Annual Coal Report35 - Fatal Accidents
      The information lists the explosion in the New Orient Mine on August 14 and the deaths occurring on August 20.
 
C. H. Clark, of West Frankfort, driller, aged 53 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Walter Clements, Jr., of West Frankfort, machine man, aged 32 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
George L. Filkins, of West Frankfort, machine man, aged 46 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 

Roof Fall Accident
      On December 5, 1948, a rock fall at the Chicago, Wilmington & Franklin Coal Company's Orient mine No. 1, Orient, Franklin County, killed three men. They were two timbermen and one foreman. This was caused by a fall of rock on an entry at its No. 2 room neck. There was an "I" beam across No. 2 room neck, also an "I" beam across the 45 degree crosscut opposite No. 2 room neck. The "I" beam at the 45 had been moved west six feet and its moving had been completed. Timbermen were going to put another crossbar at the south end beyond the "I" beam and had set the legs when the fall occurred. All of these men except one were of long experience as timbermen. The State mine inspector's opinion of the accident is that the "I" beam at the room neck tripped.
 
1948 Annual Coal Report36 - Fatal Accidents
 
James F. Taylor, of Benton, timberman, aged 22 years, married. He leaves a widow and one child
 
Andy Marko, of West Frankfort, foreman, aged 61 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
John Urman, of Orient, timberman, aged 51 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 

Runaway Pit Car
      On October 24, 1950, a runaway coal car at Lumaghi Coal Company's No. 4 mine, Collinsville, Madison County, fatally injuring three men. Three men died and three were injured, one seriously, as a result of this accident. One man died on arrival at the hospital, one three hours later, and the third man died 12 hours later.
      The men were using a wooden mine car which was coupled to a steel car by link and pin. The steel car was being used as a mantrip car in the slope. It was attached to a 1 inch wire rope by three 1 inch clamps. The wooden car was used for lowering limestone rock down to the slope bottom to ballast the track and landing platform. At about three minutes before 2:00 p. m., which is the regular quitting time for the day shift, the cars were pulled to the surface 217018; feet from the slope portal and past the 60 pound steel switch which leads to the yard. According to the regular practice the engineer should have been signaled to lower the car into the material track clear of the switch before uncoupling. This was not done.
      Five men were prepared to set the material car off to the yard. Two men were at the track switch, one on each side of the latches. One was waiting to uncouple the material car, one was at the signal controls located at the slope portal, and one had charge of the motor. One man set the switch latches for the material track, and the motorman ran the locomotive against the trip and coupled on to the material car. The man waiting above uncoupled the material car. The man at the switch said that as the motor started down the material track it knocked the switch latches half open and one of the men tried to knock the switch latch back over with a spike bar, but failed. When the car hit the latches it lined them back for the slope track, leaving the car on the slope track and the motor on the material track. As the car coasted and pushed the motor in the clear, it also uncoupled from the motor (a goose-neck coupling on the car) and continued down the slope. The assistant mine manager had sent twelve men, which constitutes a mantrip, from the waiting station to the landing platform, which is a distance of about 60 feet. Then someone shouted, "The car is coming back down the slope," and the red light signal was flashing about halfway down the slope. Four of the twelve men stepped to the belt side of the slope and one to the right rib of the east entry. The other eight men, which included the signal control man, ran down the east entry to get in the crosscut, which is also the waiting station. The car left the track at the curve going into the first east entry and followed the left rib, stopping on the entry about nine feet in by the crosscut. The three deceased were hit by the car before they could get in the clear.
 
1950 Annual Coal Report37 - Fatal Accidents
 
Garret Gibson, of Glen Carbon, triprider, aged 54 years, married. He leaves a widow.
 
Otto Perfetti, of Collinsville, laborer, aged 47 years, married. He leaves a widow and two children.
 
Joe Praintis, of Collinsville, laborer, aged 54 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;

30 Sixtieth Coal Report of Illinois, 1941
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

31 Sixty First Coal Report of Illinois, 1942
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

32 Sixty Second Coal Report of Illinois, 1943
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

33 Sixty Third Coal Report of Illinois, 1944
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

34 Sixty Fourth Coal Report of Illinois, 1945
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

35 Sixty Sixth Coal Report of Illinois, 1947
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

36 Sixty-seventh Coal Report of Illinois, 1948
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

37 Sixty-ninth Coal Report of Illinois, 1950
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

 

Coal & Coal Mining in Illinois

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