Coal Creek, TN Fraterville Mine Disaster, May 1902 - Not a Man Escapes Death

Explosion in the Coal Creek District in Tennessee.


Rescue Party Works All Day at a Slate Barrier – Once Through, Only Dead Men Are Found – Probably 200 have Perished.

Coal Creek, Tenn., May 19. – Between 175 and 220 men and boys met instant death at the Fraterville coal mine, located two miles west of this town, at 7:30 o’clock this morning, because of a gas explosion.

Of the large number of men and boys who went to work this morning, only one is alive and his is so badly injured that he cannot live. This man is William Morgan, an aged Englishman, who was a road man in the mine. He was blown out of the entrance by the force of the explosion.

One hundred and seventy-five miners were checked in for work this morning, by the mine boss. In addition to these there were the boys who acted as helpers and drivers, and road men and others, to the number pr perhaps 50.

The Fraterville mine is the oldest mine in the Coal Creek district, having been opened in 1870. It is fully three miles from the opening of the mine to the point where the men were at work. They had not been at work long before the terrible explosion occurred. There was a fearful roar and then flames shot from the entrance and the air shafts.

As soon as possible two rescuing parties were started in, one at the main entrance, the other through the Thistle mine, which adjoins and in which men were at work. The Thistle party were unable to make any headway, as the gas stifled the workers. The Fraterville party went full two miles under the earth until a heavy fall of slate was encountered. At this barrier men worked desperately, hoping against hope that those beyond might be safe.