“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Whitesville in Boone County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

West Virginia Coal Mine Disasters

West Virginia Coal Mine Disasters Panel image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, July 13, 2019
1. West Virginia Coal Mine Disasters Panel
1907 Fairmont Coal Company
Monongah No. 6 and No. 8 Mines
Monongah, West Virginia

At 10:20 a.m., December 6, 1907, explosions occurred at the No. 6 and No. 8 mines at Monongah, West Virginia. The explosions ripped through the mines, causing the earth to shake as far as 8 miles away, shattering buildings and pavement, hurling people and horses violently to the ground, and knocking streetcars off their rails. In this, which remains the worst mine disaster in the United States, 362 men and boys died.

The Monongah Mines Nos. 6 and 8 were located on the West Fork of the Monongahela River, about 6 miles south of the town of Fairmont, West Virginia. The mines were connected underground and were considered model mines, the most up-to-date in the mining industry. Electricity was used for coal-cutting machinery; locomotives were used to haul coal; and the largest areas of each mine were ventilated by mechanical fans.

The Marion County Coroner’s Jury, after hearing from numerous witnesses, concluded the victims of the disaster died from an explosion caused by either a blown out shot or by ignition and explosion of blasting powder in Mine No. 8. The 362 casualties
Interpretive Panels image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, July 13, 2019
2. Interpretive Panels
This marker is the panel on the right.
of Monongah’s coal mine disaster left more than 1,000 widows and children.

1914 New River Collieries Company
Eccles No. 5 and No. 6 Mines
Eccles, West Virginia

On April 28, 1914, a miner in Eccles No. 5 mine in Raleigh County blew a hole through a barrier of coal in an effort to shorten the distance between, his assigned working areas, effectively shortcutting the mine’s ventilation and allowing methane to accumulate. Another miner’s open flame light ignited the gas, setting off a violent explosion killing all 174 men in No. 5.

The mine connected with Eccles No. 6, operating in another coal seam. Nine men in No. 6 died of injuries and of afterdamp, the deadly gas left after a mine explosion.

Reaching the first casualty rook four days. The massive recovery effort Required a temporary morgue to deal with body identification. An urgent search was made to locate enough coffins. Government mine officials were joined by local volunteers, and Governor Henry Hatfield traveled underground with some of the exploration parties. The explosion remains West Virginia’s second-worst mine disaster.

Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial — Interpretive Signage Area image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, July 13, 2019
3. Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial — Interpretive Signage Area
Consolidation Coal Company
Consol No. 9 Mine
Farmington, West Virginia

On a damp, cold morning on November 20, 1968, a gas and dust explosion occurred in Consolidation Coal Company’s No. 9 mine in the great Pittsburgh coal seam near Farmington and Mannington in West Virginia. A large cloud of black smoke and red flames spewed from the pit opening, and rock and debris were catapulted from the mine.

Twenty-one miners managed to scramble to safety, but another 78 men were not as fortunate. Attempts at rescue were delayed until the fires could be extinguished. For days afterward, rescuers from across the coalfields worked amidst the debris, some of it dangerously unstable, looking to find and dig out survivors.

Finally, after nine days, the mine was ordered sealed, a step that had been delayed out of consideration of the relatives of men inside. The mine was reopened a year later and most of the bodies removed, although 19 miners were never recovered. The legal and political consequences were profound. Shocked by the Farmington carnage, a mine safety conference was convened in Washington to discuss working conditions in the nation’s coal mines. As a result of the disaster, national attention was brought to the issue of mine safety in late 1968 and early 1969. Congress and the Nixon administration responded with the passage
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of the 1969 federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.

2006 International Coal Group
Sago Coal Mine
Sago, West Virginia

An explosion at the Sago mine in Upshur County, West Virginia, killed 12 men on January 2, 2006. The initial methane blast at 6:30 a.m. killed one worker. Twelve other men sought refuge from the carbon monoxide fumes, but 11 men were dead by the time the rescuers reached them—41 hours later. However, information from rescuers underground became scrambled by the time it reached the surface. Mining officials believed that they heard that all 12 miners had survived.

Gathered at the Sago Baptist Church nearby were family members who heard the erroneous information and celebrated the survival of their loved ones. News agencies picked up the story and spread it worldwide. Three hours later, mining officials announced that 11 men were dead. Only one miner survived the disaster. The mine, located near Buckhannon, was owned by International Coal Group. The company and two state agencies later concluded that a lightning blast likely ignited the methane inside the mine.
Topics and series.
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This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: DisastersIndustry & CommerceNatural Resources. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #37 Richard M. Nixon series list.
Location. 37° 58.764′ N, 81° 32.047′ W. Marker is in Whitesville, West Virginia, in Boone County. Marker is on Coal River Road (West Virginia Route 3) just west of Bridge Avenue, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Whitesville WV 25209, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion (here, next to this marker); Big Coal River (a few steps from this marker); Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Coal River (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Whitesville School (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mary Ingles (approx. 13.1 miles away); Standard, WV (approx. 13.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Whitesville.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 11, 2019. It was originally submitted on August 11, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 107 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on August 11, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   2, 3. submitted on August 5, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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Nov. 25, 2020