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Mining Accident and Disasters
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Historical Data on Mine Disasters in the United States
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The term "mine disaster" historically has been applied to mine accidents claiming five or more lives.  Mine disasters, in this sense, once were appallingly common.  For instance, the single year of 1907 saw 18 coal mine disasters, plus two more disasters in the metal and nonmetal mining industry.  Among the disasters in 1907 was history's worst - the Monongah coal mine explosion, which claimed 362 lives and impelled Congress to create the Bureau of Mines.

Mine accidents have declined dramatically in number and severity through decades of research, technology, and preventive programs.  Today, mine accidents resulting in five or more deaths are no longer common.  However, preventing recurrence of disasters like those of the past remains a top priority requiring constant vigilance by management, labor, and government.

Statistical Summary

Number of Documented Mine Disasters
(where 5 or more deaths occurred):

Historic Period Coal Mine Disasters Metal and Nonmetal Mine Disasters Total Disasters
Through 1875 19 4 23
1876-1900 101 17 118
1901-1925 305 51 356
1926-1950 147 23 170
1951-1975 35 9 44
1976-present 16 1 17


Year with largest number of coal mine fatalities: 1907 (3,242)  [see list]

Year with lowest number of coal mine fatalities: 2009 (18)

Year with largest number of metal/nonmetal mine fatalities: 1917 (983)  [see list]

Year with lowest number of metal/nonmetal mine fatalities: 2009 (16)

Year with largest number of coal mine disasters: 1909 (20 coal mine disasters)

Year with largest number of metal/nonmetal mine disasters: 1911 (8 metal/nonmetal mine disasters)

Year with largest number of mine disasters overall: 1910 (25 mine disasters-19 coal, 6 metal/nonmetal)

Listing of Selected Historic Mine Disasters

Coal Mines

All accidents with five or more fatalities, since 1970
see also - Mine Disasters Since 1980 and Coal Mine Fatalities: 1900-2012

The planet links below will open in a separate window

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
2010 04/05 Upper Big Branch Mine, Massey Energy Company Montcoal, WV Explosion 29
2007 08/06
08/16
Crandall Canyon Mine, Genwal and Murray Energy Corporation Huntington, UT Collapse 6
3
2006 05/20 Darby Mine No. 1, Kentucky Darby LLC Holmes Mill, KY Explosion 5
2006 01/02 Sago Mine, International Mines Corp. Tallmansville, WV Explosion 12
2001 09/23 No. 5 Mine, Jim Walter Resources Tuscaloosa County
Brookwood, AL
Explosion 13
1992 12/07 No. 3 Mine, Southmountain Coal Co. Wise County
Norton, VA
Explosion 8
1989 09/13 William Station No. 9 Mine, Pyro Mining Co. Union County
Sullivan, KY
Explosion 10
1986 02/06 Loveridge No. 22,
Consolidation Coal Co.
Marion County
Fairview, WV
Suffocation (surface stockpile) 5
198412/19 Wilberg Mine, Emery Mining Corp. Emery County
Orangeville, UT
Fire 27
1983 06/21 McClure No. 1 Mine, Clinchfield Coal Co. Dickinson County
McClure, VA
Explosion 7
1982 01/20 No. 1 Mine, RFH Coal Co. Floyd County
Craynor, KY
Explosion 7
1981 12/08 No. 21 Mine, Grundy Mining Co. Marion County
Whitwell, TN
Explosion 13
1981 12/07 No. 11 Mine, Adkins Coal Co. Knott County
Kite, KY
Explosion 8
1981 04/15 Dutch Creek No. 1, Mid-Continent Resources, Inc. Pitkin County
Redstone, CO
Explosion 15
1980 11/07 Ferrell No. 17, Westmorland Coal Co. Boone County
Uneeda, WV
Explosion 5
1978 04/04 Moss No.3 Portal A, Clinchfield Coal Co. Dickinson County
Duty, VA
Suffocation (oxygen deficient air) 5
1977 03/01 Porter Tunnel, Kocher Coal Co. Schuykill County
Tower City, PA
Flood 9
1976 03/9-11 Scotia Mine, Blue Diamond Coal Co. Letcher County
Oven Fork, KY
Explosion 26
1972 12/16 Itmann No. 3 Mine, Itmann Coal Co. Wyoming County
Itmann, WV
Explosion 5
197207/22 Blacksville No. 1, Consolidation Coal Co. Monongalia County
Blacksville, WV
Fire 9
1970 12/30 Nos. 15 and 16 Mines, Finley Coal Co. Leslie County
Hyden, KY
Explosion 38



The five worst coal mine disasters, since 1940:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1968 11/20 Consol No. 9 Farmington, WV Explosion 78
1951 12/21 Orient No. 2 West Frankfort, IL Explosion 119
1947 03/25 Centralia No. 5 Centralia, IL Explosion 111
1940 03/16 Willow Grove No. 10 St. Clairsville, OH Explosion 72
1940 01/10 Pond Creek No. 1 Bartley, WV Explosion 91


The five worst coal mine disasters in U.S. history:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1907 12/06 Monongah Nos. 6 and 8 Monongah, WV Explosion 362
1913 10/22 Stag Canon No. 2 Dawson, NM Explosion 263
1909 11/13 St. Paul No. 2 (Cherry) Cherry, IL Fire 259
1907 12/19 Darr Mine Jacobs Creek, PA Explosion 239
1900 05/01 Winter Quarters 1, 2 Scofield, UT Explosion 200


The five worst Anthracite coal mine disasters in U.S. history:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1869 09/06 Avondale Plymouth, PA Fire 110
1919 06/05 Baltimore Tunnel No. 2 Wilkes-Barre, PA Explosives 92
1911 04/07 Price-Pancoast Throop, PA Fire 73
1896 06/28 Twin Pittston, PA Roof Fall 58
1924 01/26 Lancashire No. 18 Shanktown, PA Explosion 36


The U. S. Bureau of Mines was established on May 16, 1910.  During the three years leading up to its start (1907 to 1909), there were 50 coal mine disasters in which 5 or more miners were killed.  Total killed - 1,779

Year No. of Disasters No. Killed
1907 18 918
1908 12 356
1909 20 505


Metal and Nonmetal Mines

see also - Metal and Nonmetal Mine Fatalities: 1900-2012

All accidents with five or more fatalities, since 1970:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1979 06/08 Belle Isle Mine, Cargill, Inc. (salt) St. Mary Parish, Franklin, LA Explosion 5
1972 05/02 Sunshine Mine, Sunshine Mining Co. (silver) Shoshone County, Kellogg, ID Fire 91
1971 04/12 Barnett Complex, Ozark-Mahoning Co. (fluorspar) Pope County, Rosiclair, IL H2S Poisoning 7


The five worst metal and nonmetal mine disasters, since 1940:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1972 05/02 Sunshine Mine (silver) Kellogg, ID Fire 91
1968 03/05 Belle Isle Mine (salt) Franklin, LA Fire 21
1963 08/27 Cane Creek Mine (potash) Moab, UT Explosion 18
1943 01/05 Boyd Mine (copper) Ducktown, TN Explosion 9
194203/26 Sandts Eddy Quarry (limestone) Allentown, PA Explosion (surface) 31


The three worst metal and nonmetal mine disasters in U.S. history:

Year Day Mine Location Type Deaths Planets
1972 05/02 Sunshine Mine (silver) Kellogg, ID Fire 91
1926 11/03 Barnes Hecker Mine (iron) Ishpeming, MI Flood 51
1917 06/08 Granite Mountain Shaft (copper) Butte, MT Fire 163

 

Mine Disasters Occurring During War Years

Mine Rescue Success Stories and Rescuer Deaths

References

1969-1990

Individual Bureau of Mines, MESA, and MSHA accident investigation reports.

Historic Accidents

Coal Mines: Bureau of Mines Bulletin 586, "Historical Summary of Coal-Mine Explosions in the United States, 1810-1958" (1960).  Bureau of Mines Bulletin 616, "Historical Documentation of Major Coal-Mine Disasters in the United States Not Classified As Explosions of Gas or Dust: 1846-1962" (1963).  Bureau of Mines Information Circular 8909, "Historical Summary of Coal Mine Explosions in the United States, 1959-81" (1983).  "Coal Accidents That Resulted in 5 or More Fatalities Mine From 1957 Through January 1982," listing informally maintained by staff, Office of Information and Public Affairs.

Metal/Nonmetal Mines: Bureau of Mines IC 7493, "Major Disasters at Metal and Nonmetal Mines and Quarries in the United States (Excluding Coal Mines)" (1949).  "List of accidents at metal and nonmetal mines and quarries (except coal mines) in the United States in which five or more lives were lost," update of Table 1 from the preceding publication, informally maintained by staff, Office of Information and Public Affairs.