Newburg, WV Explosion Rips Coal Mine, Jan 1886
THE FATAL FIRE DAMP.
TERRIBLE EXPLOSION IN A WEST VIRGINIA COLLIERY.
THIRTY-SEVEN MEN IMPRISONED, DEAD OR ALIVE, IN THE HEADINGS -- DAMAGE TO ADJACENT PROPERTY.
Newburg, West Va., Jan 21 -- A terrible explosion occurred at the Orrell Coal Company's mines at this place shortly after 3 o'clock this afternoon. At least 35 men are in peril, if not dead. About the hour named, while the day shift of miners were at work in the mine, which is situated near the outskirts of the town, there was a tremendous explosion, the force of which knocked men down in the streets half a mile away, shattered windows and doors all over the town, and crushed the sides of frame houses for a long distance around the mouth of the mines, while from the shaft of the colliery a dense cloud of smoke and vapor shot 200 feet into the air. In a moment hundreds of citizens had congregated about the shaft. The force of the explosion so blocked the air course that no one dares venture in the main heading to ascertain the fate of the imprisoned men until an air passage can be established. This work is being pushed vigorously, but up to midnight no bodies had been discovered. The shock was heard 10 miles away. It is supposed that 37 men are imprisoned, and the prevailing opinion is that all are dead, although a few miners express the hope that some of them may have escaped the effects of the explosion and have been able to reach a place free from the fatal black damp which always follows an explosion of this kind. The following is a list of the victims as correct and full as can be obtained:
DANIEL MILLER, cage man, married, Newburg.
J. BIRD MILLER, driver, single, Newburg.
MICHAEL CLARK, single, Newburg.
A. M. KEARNEY, single, Newburg.
WILLIAM LAMIER and FRANK LAMIER, twin brothers, married, Independence.
JOHN CONWAY, single, Newburg.
WILLIAM STANSBURY, married, Independence.
ADOLPH WEIR, recently married, Newburg.
ISAAC TIMMONS, married, Newburg.
MORGAN FREEMAN, married, Ironton.
HENRY LAMBERT, married, Newburg.
E. FORTNEY, single, Clarksburg.
ROSS KELLEY, married, Newburg.
NICHOLAS BIRTH, youth, Newburg.
ALBERT McWILLIAMS, married, Newburg.
JOHN HORNBY, single, Newburg.
PETER HOWLEY, single, Newburg.
NEWTON MOORE, married, Newburg.
JAMES McGOWEN, single, Newburg.
JOHN CARROLL, married, Newburg.
HENRY GUY, single, Newburg.
RICHARD KELLEY, married, Newburg.
JOHN LAMBERT, married, Newburg.
GEORGE RIGGINS, married, Scotch Hill.
CHARLES TUNLEY, married, Newburg.
JOHN BOYERS, married, Newburg.
A. LEVY WEAVER, married, Independence.
JACOB WEAVER, his brother, married, Independence.
FRANK MOORE, single, Scotch Hill.
WILBER SPENCER, single, Newburg.
ANDREW SCOTT, single, Scotch Hill.
JOHN EDWARDS, single, Newburg.
ARTHUR OGDEN, married, Newburg.
A 12-year-old WILLIAM TIMMONS, doorkeeper, Newburg.
John Miller, a driver, became sick about 3 o'clock and left the mines five minutes before the explosion occurred. Two other miners came out at 2:30 and were on the point of re-entering when the explosion drove them back from the mouth of the mine.
The Orrell Coal Company was formed in 1856, when the Hiscock and Rushly Coal Company was bought out. The Superintendent is Lawrence Henry, who was appointed at the time the mine changed hands. The slope where the accident occurred is but two years old, and is about a mile from the other outlets to the mine. For 25 years the company has averaged 250 tons of coal per day. It gives employment to about 250 men. The scene about the mouth of the mine at midnight was pitiful. Fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters of the imprisoned men filled the air with their lamentations while hoping against hope that their friends may be restored to them tomorrow.
The shaft at which the explosion occurred, was sunk about two years ago and has reached a depth of 350 feet. From the base of the shaft the main heading runs out about half a mile, the rooms diverging from either side. The theory as to the cause of the explosion is that the fire damp had accumulated in one of the rooms and was accidentally ignited by a miner's lamp.
The New York Times New York 1886-01-22