Pennsylvania miners perish in coal mine explosion - HISTORY
Year
1907

Pennsylvania miners perish in coal mine explosion

A coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania, kills 239 workers on this day in 1907. Only one worker in the deep mine at the time survived the tragedy.

The Pittsburgh Coal Company set up the Darr mine on the side of a mountain near the Youghiogheny River. The mine was almost two miles deep and six workers at a time–most of whom were immigrants–would ride a wood bucket back and forth from the surface.

At about 11:30 on the morning of December 19, 240 workers were below the surface when a huge explosion rocked the mine. It was so powerful that homes in Jacobs Creek rattled and windows shattered. Thick black smoke poured out of the mine before the entrance collapsed. Mrs. John Campbell reported her observation, “My husband was about due for his dinner when the loud report came and I looked out the back door toward the mine. Instead of my husband, I saw a great cloud of dust and smoke pouring out of the mouth of the mine. It floated upward and disappeared across the river.”

Joseph Mapleton, who was near a side entryway to the mine when the explosion occurred, was the sole survivor of the disaster. The victims died from a variety of causes: Some were crushed to death from the collapse of the mine, others suffocated and the remainder was killed in the blast itself. The precise cause of the explosion was never determined, but most coal-mine blasts are set off when a pocket of gas is accidentally ignited. Prior to the disaster, there was much talk among the miners about the prevalence of gas pockets in the Darr mine.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Last lunar-landing mission ends

The Apollo lunar-landing program ends on December 19, 1972, when the last three astronauts to travel to the moon splash down safely in the Pacific Ocean. Apollo 17 had lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, 10 days before. In July 1969, after three years of preparation, the ...read more

President Clinton impeached

After nearly 14 hours of debate, the House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Clinton, the second president in American history to be ...read more

North Vietnam condemns Linebacker raids

Hanoi’s foreign ministry, calling the new B-52 raids against Hanoi and Haiphong “extremely barbaric,” accuses the United States of premeditated intensification of the war and labels the actions “insane.”On December 13, North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of secret talks in ...read more

John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn released

Offered in the guise of a Western film, John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn, one of the best post-war critiques of American society, is released by Warner Brothers.John Ford was born Sean O’Feeny in 1894. He moved to Hollywood from Maine in 1913 and soon ...read more

Poor Richard’s Almanack is published

On this day in 1732, Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia first published Poor Richard’s Almanack. The book, filled with proverbs preaching industry and prudence, was published continuously for 25 years and became one of the most popular publications in colonial America, selling an ...read more

Titanic sails into theaters

On this day in 1997, director James Cameron’s epic drama Titanic, the story of the real-life luxury ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 passengers and crew, opens in theaters; it will go on to become ...read more

World Series parachutist sentenced

Michael Sergio, who parachuted into Game Six of the 1986 World Series at New York’s Shea Stadium, is fined $500 and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. On October 25, Sergio, a 37-year-old actor and Mets fan, landed on the infield with a “Let’s Go Mets” banner in the ...read more

James Archer born

On this day in 1817, Confederate General James Archer is born in Harford County, Maryland. Archer received his education at Princeton Universitybefore servingwith the Maryland volunteers during the Mexican War (1846-48). He earned a brevet promotion (an honorary promotion usually ...read more