Posts Tagged ‘Coal Mines’

When the Coal-Pile Quits

November 29, 2012

Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Oct 27, 1919


It is well for the public to bear in mind what the bituminous miners are demanding. They want a sixty per cent increase in their hourly rate, a six hour day and a five day week. They are willing to work just thirty hours a week, and no more, if their leaders are to be believed.

Will they mine more coal? No, the output will be much less. More is needed to supply the demand, but that makes no difference to them.

Where is the money to come from to pay this increased cost of mining the coal? Out of the public. If the strikers get what they demand the price of coal will be increased approximately two dollars a ton to the consumer.

Nice prospect the consumer is facing, isn’t it? If the miners don’t get what they want he doesn’t get any coal. If their demands are granted he must fork over $2 more every time he orders a ton of coal.

Poor consumer! He is always getting in the neck. Somebody’s slugging him all the time. Wonder how long he is going to stand for it?

Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Oct 28, 1919

Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Nov 4, 1919

The Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Dec 20, 1919

Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Dec 8, 1919


Everybody’s grouchy when the coal-pile quits,
Greediness and stubbornness have paralyzed the pits.
“Cabinets are jelly-minded!”
Governors are spavin-spined-ed!”
Hear the chorus all uproar’ous giving Garfield fits!
For everybody’s grouchy when the coal-pile quits.

Everbody’s frosty when the coal pile quits,
When you fell the furnace you must wear your woolen mitts.
Courts and cook-stoves are upbraided;
Reds and redolents are aided;
Hear the Hammer-courus clamor, blowing us to bits,
For everybody’s frosty when the coal-pile quits.

Just one man is smiling as the coal-pile quits;
Only one I think of whom it favorably hits,
As his task grows nearer daily,
I can hear him chuckle daily,
“I, by Jim’ny, in the chimney, won’t be burnt to bits!”
Santy Claus is smiling as the coal-pile quits.

(Copyright, 1919, N.E.A.)

Edmund Vance Cooke

Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Dec 11, 1919

Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Dec 2, 1919


It used to be on New Year’s Day
A man forsook his booze,
But now ‘twould be a better play
To swear off wearing shoes.

He used to cease to burn cigars
In succor of his soul,
But now, no doubt, he’d thank his stars
To swear off burning coal.

He swore off drinking (in his pride)
To give the New Year greeting,
But nothing now will save his hide
Unless he swears off eating.

He swore off naughtiness, and used
To think himself a hero,
But cost of living has reduced
His naught-iness to zero.

He used to cease some wicked word
Upon some New Year’s Day,
But now — oh, let it not be heard
The word he’d like to say!

(Copyright, 1919, N.E.A.)

Edmund Vance Cooke

Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Dec 24, 1919

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Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Dec 20, 1919

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Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Nov 18, 1919

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The Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Dec 15, 1919

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Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Sep 22, 1919

Lick Branch Mine: 2 Explosions in 2 Weeks

March 3, 2009
Group of Coal Miners

Group of Coal Miners


Believed That Fatalities Will Mount That High in West Virginia Explosion


Rescuers Work All Night and Continue Efforts Today to Get at Their Entombed Comrades.

MAYBURY, W. Va., Dec. 30. — The fatalities in the Lick Branch Mine as a result of yesterday’s explosion will probably reach fifty.

At 10 o’clock today mine officials admitted that there are thirty men now buried under the debris. The mine foreman, however, insists that 41 men are still entombed in an old working near the Tug River side of the mine where the explosion occurred. The early morning hours were spent by the rescuers in bracing the walls so as to get to the scene of the accident.

All night rescuing parties, including Mine Inspectors Phillips, Warner, Henry and Brady and scores of the most experienced fire bosses and miners worked tirelessly. At an early hour today 42 men had been removed from the mine, twelve of whom are dead. Only the main part of the mine has been explored as yet.

This mine is the largest in southern West Virginia, employing 400 men.

CINCINNATI. Dec. 30. — Orders were this morning received by a local firm for forty coffins to be sent to Maybury. It is presumed additional coffins have been ordered from other points.

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) Dec 30, 1908


Scores of Miners Buried in Shafts





Special to the Daily News.

Ennis, W. Va., December 30. — Up to one o’clock today nineteen bodies had been taken from the Lick Branch mine of the Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Company. It is feared that all of the fifty-eight men in the mine when the explosion occurred late yesterday are now dead.

Bluefield, W. Va., December 30. — One of the worst mine disasters in this field since the explosion of the Pocahontas mines in 1889, occurred at the Lick Branch Collieries Company’s mine at Maybury yesterday afternoon. The explosion was heard for some distance and people from every point rushed to the drift mouth of the mine, hoping to aid in any way possible. During the day 17 men have been taken from the mines, four of whom were dead and some of the others badly injured.

The dead are James Smith, Charles Little, W. Little and a Russian. It is estimated that there are 25 to 30 yet in the mines, and it is believed that they will not be found alive.

Special trains were run from Pocahontas with officials and rescuing parties. One report states that there were 52 men in the mine at the time of the explosion.

The work of rescue is slow owing to the fact that supplies and bratticing had to be sent from this city to aid in the work.

At a late hour no further definite news as to the loss of life or damage to property could be obtained.

Lick Branch is the name of a coal operation on the Pocahontas division of the Norfolk and Western Railway, and is without commercial telegraph facilities.

Norfolk and Western Railway officers say that owing to the fact that miners are taking a holiday this week in large numbers, it is not likely that more than 50 or 60 men were at work in this particular mine at the time of the explosion. It is stated that the Lick Branch mine has a connection with another mine on the other side of the mountain, and that it is possible this mine has been affected.
The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined.

Lima Daily News (Lima, Ohio) Dec 30, 1908


More Bodies Recovered from Lick Branch Mine.


Thirty-Six Bodies Recovered Up to Noon Hour.

Mine Official Directing the Work at That Hour Express the Belief that There Are Yet at Least Twenty-One Victims More To Be Located in the Galleries of the Mine.

Switchback, W. Va., Dec. 31. — Another sleepless night was passed by this little town in expectancy of removal of more bodies from the mine at the Lick Branch colliery. Twelve more bodies were removed this morning, bringing the total dead list up to thirty-six.

The following is the complete list up to this morning:

Jim Smith, Charles Little, Wylie Little, unknown Russian, Jim Lockhart, Henry Lockhart, Richard Lockhart, Cleve Alexander, Pleas Kennedy, John Miller, Kemp Sanders, John Brown, Greek; Sam Beatty, Jim Roane, Tobe Webber, Matthew Webber, Reed Anderson, two unknown Italians, Peter Coles, Dominick Rose, Tony Alanava, George Meekert, Dave Bolton, Mike Buschuke, Young Johnson, George Barzollett, four Russians known only by numbers, A.J. Holland, Albert Holland, Zeff Estes.

Explorers are still at work in the ill-fated mine, men vieing with each others in staying on rescuing squads as long as bearable. One hundred experienced men are there waiting and willing to be called upon for service.

Mine officials believe there are still twenty-one victims yet to be located.

The Marion Weekly Star (Marion, Ohio) Jan 2, 1909



Second Explosion in Lick Branch Colliery.


Explosion Occurs Just After Men Go to Work.

The Full Quota of the Day Shift Is On When the Gasses Let Go — A Special Train with Physicians and Mine Officials Is Sent to the Scene of the Explosion from Bluefield.

Facts Come Slowly.

Welch, W. Va., Jan. 12. — Death again wrought horrible vengeance to 250 men imprisoned in the earth here today. One hundred torn and bleeding miners are believed to be beyond rescue, and the safety of the others is in doubt, as the result of an explosion at the Lick Branch mine at Switchback, West Virginia, at 8 o’clock this morning.

It is the second explosion at the mine within the past three weeks. In the first explosion, fifty lives were snuffed out. The Lick Branch is West Virginia’s model mine, according to the inspectors, who visited it shortly before the tragedy of three weeks ago.

The couldn’t understand it, but believed it safe again. Two hundred and fifty men went to work there this morning. How many will return to their homes this evening must be determined by the rescuers.

Orphans and widows have been stunned since the last explosions, and in some places crepe had not been removed from the doors. The pall of death hung heavily over the little hamlet, which nestles in the center of the giant Flat Top coal fields. When they saw the smoke issuing from the mine today following the noise like the booming of a cannon, they knew that it was the warning of death.

Hearts Wrung Dry.

Yet grief had wrung their hearts dry. The fountain of tears had wasted away. Dry-eyed and pale lipped, they made their way to the mines, where they knew that relatives, husbands or sons, were either crushed or fighting for their lives in a veritable sepulcher of death.

Tears were driving back by the paralysis of fear. They merely shook their heads. Even their tongues failed them. Disaster has come too swiftly for them to comprehend.

No explanation is given for the disaster this morning. The only solution that has been offered is that another pocket of gas, sealed by the last explosion and falling debris, let go.

A coroner’s jury which investigated the previous great loss of life failed to find any cause for the first explosion, but added a clause to its report, exonerating the mine owners and officials of all blame in the matter.

Hundreds Are Caught.

Welch. W. Va., Jan. 12. — One hundred miners have been caught in a second explosion at the Lick Branch colliery. Hardly had the crepe been taken from the doors of many an humble little home on the banks of the Elkhorn, near the Lick Branch colliery, than an explosion which now promises to be more direful than the one of two weeks ago in which half a hundred lives were lost, occurred, and has brought additional sorrow.

Fathers and brothers of some of those killed in the last explosion are known to have been in the ill-fated mine at 8:30 this morning when the second explosion occurred, and soon their bodies will be laid to rest in the hills nearby which goes to swell the list of miners killed in this state in the past year to something near the 1,000 mark.

State Mine Inspector John Laing, of New River, and four of his leading assistants had just made an inspection of the Lick Branch colliery prior to the first explosion, and it was pronounced one of the safest and best ventilated mines in the Flat Top field.

No Known Cause.

Another inspection was made just after the explosion, and no cause could be assigned for the catastrophe. A coroner’s jury which also investigated the great loss of life failed to find any cause, bu added a clause to the report exonerating the mine owners and officials of all blame in the matter.

Swithchback, the scene of the explosion, is a small village in McDowell county, in the center of the great Flat Top Coal field.

The explosion occurred at half past 8 o’clock this morning just an hour after the full quota of men for the day shift had gone to work.

The mine usually works from one to two hundred men. A special train with physicians and mine officials has been sent to the scene from Bluefield. Definite information as to the exact number of killed is hard to secure as those in authority about the mine are reticent when it comes to giving out the facts in the case.

May Reach Hundred.

The list of those killed in the Lick Branch mine explosion this morning, it is now believed, may reach 100, although this number may be greatly lessened or increased. It is known that 250 miners were on duty at the time.

At noon today the heat was so intense in the Lick Branch mine that no attempt has been made by the rescuing party to enter. It is now believed that the death list may reach 150, possibly 200. Mine officials from all parts of Pocahontas and Elkhorn fields are pouring in here on special trains.

The Marion Daily Star (Marion, Ohio) Jan 12, 1909



Rescuers Report Most Horribble Sights in Fireswept Colliery.


Hard to Distinguish Between the Black and White.

Bluefield, W. Va., Jan. 14. — Fifty one bodies have been taken from Lick Branch mine at Switchback, W. Va., where a fatal explosion occurred Tuesday. An official statement issued by the colliery company estimates the total number of dead at 57 and says the number will not exceed 59.

Three rescue crews of 40 men each led by State Mine Inspectors Grady Nicholson and Warner, are at work. The men in these crews report the most ghastly sights within the torn and fire-swept corridors and working of the mine where bodies are found mangled and mutilated beyond identification.

It is difficult to distinguish, they declare, between black and white, because they are so frightfully burned. Some bodies taken from the mines resemble charred masses of flesh more than human beings. From some bodies the legs are gone, from others the arms. One was completely headless.

Nine unidentified dead and two others were brought out, but have not yet been placed in the morgue. Experienced mine men are authority for the statement that this is the first case on the record where two explosions took place in the same mine in such a short space of time, and are unable to explain its cause. Some of them point to the fact that the thermometer fell 19 degrees within several hours on the morning of the catastrophe and hold that such rapid changes in the weather have considerable influence on the conditions that produce mine disasters.

Evening Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) Jan 14, 1909



So President of Mine Workers Refers to Lick Branch Mine.

Charleston, W. Va., Jan. 16. — Ben Davis, president of the United Mine Workers of West Virginia, has given out a statement in which he openly charges that the ill-fated Lick Branch mine, in which two explosions have occurred recently, was operated in violation of the mining laws. He demands that the legislature now in session begin an immediate investigation of the disasters.

Davis charges that the mine was reopened after the first explosion, which occurred in December, before state inspectors had finished their examination. He also declares there are places in the mine from 150 to 272 feet “ahead of the air.”

The Marion Daily Star (Marion, Ohio) Jan 16, 1909


Overcharge Caused Mine Disaster.

Bluefield, W. Va., Jan. 18. — The coroner’s jury investigating the Lick Branch mine explosion last Tuesday decided that the explosion was caused by an overcharged shot of gunpowder and that sixty-five men came to their death through no fault of the mining companies.

The Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jan 18, 1909

Mine Explosion at Almy, Wyoming, 1881

February 17, 2009
Coal Mines at Almy, 1871

Coal Mines at Almy, 1871

The above picture is from the Wyoming Tales and Trails website. Warning: It has music playing.



SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 4 — A special from Evanston, Wy., to the Tribune says: “The gas in the Rocky Mountain Coal and Iron company’s mine No. Two, at Almy station, on the Union Pacific road, exploded at 8.45 last evening, throwing the flames many hundred feet high out of the main slope, carrying away the buildings around the mouth of the shaft, and setting the machinery buildings on fire. About 15 minutes before the explosion from 10 to 30 white men and 50 Chinamen went down to work for the night. At two a.m. 17 Chinamen, more or less seriously injured, had been rescued, many with limbs broken and badly scalded. About 20 dead Chinamen have been discovered, but have not yet been brought up. No white man has yet been found, and there are no hopes that any are alive. The jar of the explosion was plainly felt at Evanston.”

A dispatch from Cheyenne says the night shift consisted of 50 Chinamen and five whites. Two of the whites were brought out in a crippled condition, and 15 Chinamen were rescued through the ventilating shaft, all of whom were more or less injured. It is believed that 35 Chinamen and two white men, are now in the mine which is on fire. The mine is owned by the Central Pacific railway, and was being worked at its full capacity. The accident will cause a suspension of work for a year.

Evening Gazette (Port Jervis, New York) Mar 5,  1881


Frightful Explosion in a Coal Mine —
Forty Men Killed.

EVANSTON, (Wyoming), Mar. 5.
A fearful explosion took place in mine No. 2 last night. The cause is not definitely known, but it is supposed to be by gas generated by fire in the abandoned mine No. 1, which has been burning for the past six years, and is separated from mine No. 2 by wide walls only. The explosions completely demolished all the buildings over the main stope and, setting fire to these, burned them, together with the engine and other houses adjoining. There were sixty Chinamen and four white men in the mine. Of the latter, Mr. Gillespie, John Barton and Josiah Crosby were taken out dead, and Charles Beverage alive, but very dangerously burned, but may recover. Twenty-five Chinamen have been brought to the surface, all badly scalded and many with broken limbs. The balance are probably dead. The white men were all married and leave large families. The fire in the mine is now out, and everything possible is being done for the recovery of the balance of bodies and for the injured.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Mar 7,  1881