Wilkes-Barre, PA Coal Mine Disaster, June 1919 - Heavy Loss of Life


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. June 5—More then ninety men were killed and sixty injured today in an explosion in the Baltimore tunnel of the Delaware and Hudson Coal Company near here. Reports from the mine are to the effect that already ninety-nine charred bodies had been taken from the tunnel and officials are of the opinion that at least thirty other men are still imprisoned in the mine. The accident happened at 6:40 AM this morning just as the shifts were being changed and two hundred men were on their way in the mines at the time of the explosion which was caused by an electric wire falling in a car of black powder. Had the car contained dynamite the force of the explosion would have wrecked the entire eastern section of the city.

Many of the injured who were rushed to the Mercy and City hospitals have died and thousands of frantic women and children rush from one hospital to another looking for some trace of their loved ones, whom they believe were victims of the catastrophe. Today’s accident is one of the worst in the history of the anthracite region and is only exceeded by the famous Avondale explosion in which 108 lives were lost.

At seven o’clock this morning thousands of residents of the mining settlement about Wilkesbarre had gathered at the mouth of the mines and hundreds of women fainted as their husbands or father were brought from the tunnel a corpse and laid on the hillside. In a few minutes the hillside was covered with the dead bodies and had the appearance of a battlefield. Hurried calls to the surrounding cities for aid were responded to and hundreds of physicians and ambulances were rushed to the mine by neighboring mines. Among the dead already recognized were "Chuck" Conners, a returned war hero and John McCloskey, a former star base ball pitcher in the New York state league. The foreman of the mines was on the fourth car entering the mine at the time of the explosion and escaped injury.

Daily Independent, Monessen, Pa 5 Jun 1919