Local resident Perry Vernon looks around the Monongah Mine sometime before the explosion. Photo credit: MSHA
Thursday, December 6, 2012 marked the 105th anniversary of the worst mining disaster in American history.
Just after 10 a.m. on December 6, 1907, an explosion rippled through interconnecting mines in the town of Monongah, West Virginia. Reports indicate the blast created an earthquake that could be felt as far as eight miles away.
At the time, these mines were considered to be the most up-to-date in the industry.
Following the blast, officials couldn’t determine where the miners were on fire or full of gas, and rescue workers had to be rescued themselves after inhaling toxic mine air. To make matters worse, the entrances were blocked by wreckage and the ventilation system inside used to keep clean air circulating was destroyed.
Over the course of the next five days, rescue workers found the bodies of 362 men and boys.
It was later concluded the explosion had been caused by either a blown-out shot or other means of ignition, and the corresponding explosion of blasting powder in another part of the mine.
Just over 100 years later, in December 2009, a resolution was passed to commemorate this day as National Miners’ Day.
The goal of this day is to bring awareness about the dangers miners’ face, as well as to recognize them for the work that they do.
Emedco thanks miners of all industries for the work that they do. Stay safe.