Dunbar, PA Mine Explosion, Jun 1890 - Over 30 Miners Perish
An Explosion Causes a Great Calamity at Dunbar, Penn.
Over Thirty Miners Perish in a Burning Shaft
Thirty-one miners were killed by the explosion of gas in the coal mines at Hill Farm, owned by the Dunbar Furnace Company, a mile west of Dunbar, Penn., at 10:30 in the morning. The bodies of two of the unfortunates were taken out. The others, on the day after the accident, were still entombed in the mine, where a fierce fire was raging. Desperate efforts were made to clear the way and recover the bodies but without avail. A rescuing party of 100 men, headed by Mine Inspector KEIGHLY, spent the afternoon in the ill-fated pit.
There were fifty-seven miners in the pit when the explosion occurred. They were at work in the headings off to the right and left of the main entry, about 5000 feet from the mouth of the slope. Near the point at which the heading started in different directions an air hole had been drilled recently. This was a pinch hole. Gas and water had accumulated in it. A few minutes before the explosion occurred PATRICK KERWIN penetrated the air hole with his pick. A strong stream of water gushed out. KERWIN was horrified. He sounded the alarm. His assistant, PATRICK HAYES, started hurriedly for the main entrance. He had scarcely started when the foul gas was ignited from his lamp.
The explosion which followed was terrific. What little air there was in the place drifted to the heading to the right of the main entrance. The fire followed swiftly, and before the thirty-one men could be alarmed all hope of escape was shut off by the flames. The twenty-six men employed in the left heading were notified of the danger in time to save their lives, although their escape was thrilling and was accompanied by the wildest confusion.
At a point near where the explosion occurred the bodies of DANIEL SHOERAN, fire boss, and DAVID HAYES were found. They had evidently attempted to escape through the flames. Appended is a full list of the dead miners:
JOSEPH BRIGNER, married; RICHARD BRIGNER; MILT FORNEY, married; BARNEY MOSS; PETER EGAN, forty-four years old; ROBERT McGUILL; MARTIN CAVENER; JOHN COPE, married; ANDY COPE, son; PAT DEVLIN, married; JOHN DEHANNEY, married; JOHN JOY, married; JOHN DEHANNEY, boy; DAVID DAVIS, married; THOMAS DAVIS, son; PAT CAHILL, married; WILLIAM CAHILL, single; PAT COURTNEY, married; JOHN COURTNEY, (son); JACK MITCHELL, married; DAN SOUTH, married; JAMES SHEARN; DANNY SHEARN; DAVID HAYES (father); WILLIAM HAYES (son); JAMES McCLEARY, married; THOMAS McCLEARY, married; ELMER DEWEY; JOSEPH BIGLEY, 30, wife and two children; BARNEY MAUST, EMANUEL MAUST (brothers); PAT COURTNEY, 40, married; GEORGE COURTNEY (son), 17; and JOHN MITCHELL, 40, married.