Midlothian in Chesterfield County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Mid-Lothian Mines and Rail Roads
Early History of the Grove Shaft
The Grove Shaft plunged 625 feet and took workmen three years to dig. The Wooldridges employed 150 men and boys. Twenty-five mules stabled underground pulled coal carts on an underground railroad. Workmen, – white, free black, slave and boys as young as eight labored together using picks and shovels to dig and load the coal. They worked in two 12-hour shifts, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., six days a week. A company hospital, manned daily by three local physicians, attended to the miners’ health needs.
Steam engines raised the coal in corves (coal buckets), that were dumped into cars of the Chesterfield Railroad. This gravity/horse-drawn railroad, Virginia’s first, carried approximately 200 tons daily down to the James River wharves in Manchester in south Richmond. The coal was shipped to ports such as Washington, Baltimore and New York. It was used in blacksmiths’ forges in the production of gas and coke, and in the manufacture of iron, glass, copper and chemicals, as well as being a source of energy.
Later History of the Grove Shaft
Mining slowed after the end of the Civil War in 1865. Confederate veteran William B. Wooldridge failed in his postwar effort to issue stock to reorganize the Mid-Lothian Coal Mining Company. R.S. Burrows, his creditor from New York, took over to rework and reopen the mines. Tragedy struck in February 1882, when an explosion at the Grove Shaft entombed 32 workmen.
The Grove Shaft Explosion
On February 3, 1882, a violent methane explosion trapped 32 men in the Grove Shaft. Miners from nearby Etna pits, the Deep Run pits in Henrico County and the Clover Hill pits, plodded through the snow to assist mine superintendent George Dodds in several futile rescue attempts.
Dr. Philip S. Hancock, a local mine physician, organized a relief committee to appeal to the public for donations. With the help of members of Jerusalem Baptist Church, known now as Winfree Memorial and the Midlothian Masonic Lodge, the group raised funds to assist the miners’ families for many years with donations of food, rent money, fuel, clothing, school supplies and other necessities.
Erected 2009 by Chesterfield
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Charity & Public Work • Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars • War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1882.
Location. 37° 29.422′ N, 77° 38.609′ W. Marker is in Midlothian, Virginia, in Chesterfield County. Marker can be reached from North Woolridge Road, 0.3 miles south of Walton Park Road. This marker is located along the multi-use trail in the Mid-Lothian Mines Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 13301 North Woolridge Road, Midlothian VA 23114, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Mid-Lothian Mines and Rail Roads (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Mid-Lothian Mines and Rail Roads (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Mid-Lothian Mines and Rail Roads (about 800 feet away); a different marker also named Mid-Lothian Mines and Rail Roads (approx. 0.3 miles away); Midlothian Coal Mines (approx. 0.9 miles away); Salisbury (approx. 0.9 miles away); Union Raid On Coalfield Station (approx. Winfree Memorial Baptist Church - Midlothian Mine Disaster (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Midlothian.
More about this marker. On the top right is a sketch of the "Mid-Lothian Coal Mining Company".
On the bottom right is a sketch with the caption, "Rescuing miners almost overcome by back damp on Saturday, Feb. 4, 1882."
Also see . . . Mid-Lothian Mines Park. Park website homepage (Submitted on October 10, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 10, 2022. It was originally submitted on June 6, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,427 times since then and 67 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 6, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.