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Mine Disasters in
the United States


Raleigh-Wyoming Coal Company
Glen Rogers Mine Explosion

Glen Rogers, Wyoming County, West Virginia
November 6, 1923
No. Killed - 27



See also:   Glen Rogers No. 2 Cave-in, Dec. 9, 1957

(From Bureau of Mines report, by J. W. Paul)

The mine had been producing coal for only 1 year.  The 2 shafts were 648 feet deep and were connected, but all ventilation and hoisting were through the airshaft, which was divided by a concrete curtain wall.  The mine was gassy, and several nonfatal ignitions had occurred.

There were 64 men in the mine, 25 of whom were killed by force or heat and 2 were drowned by falling into a water-filled excavation near the airshaft where a hopper was to be installed.  The other 37 men were not affected and were organized into a recovery crew by the foreman.

Breathing apparatus was at hand but not used.  The explosion was ignited by an arc from an electric drill at an entry face where ventilation had been interrupted by a disarranged curtain and an open door.  The roadways were wet, but dust added to the intensity of the explosion.

Source:
Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume I


12 Dead, 30 Trapped in Glen Rogers Mine
Charleston Daily Mail, West Virginia
November 6, 1923

Governor Morgan and Lee Ott, State compensation commissioner left Charleston for Glen Rogers at 3 o'clock this afternoon.  It was stated at the executive office that the governor and commissioner were making the trip in order that they may give first hand aid to the entombed miners and their families.

Twelve bodies were taken from the shaft mine of the Raleigh-Wyoming Coal Company at Glen Rogers, Wyoming County and 30 men are still trapped in the mine following an explosion in the mine at 7:30 o'clock this morning, according to word received at the state department of mines at noon today.

Sixty-five men were in the mine at the time of the explosion, and were brought out uninjured, in addition to the 12 bodies found by the rescue squads, the officials of the department said.  Their report, they declared, came from the company's office at the mine.

A special first air train, bearing crews from mines in the New River and Winding Gulf fields was made up at Beckley for a quick run to the scene of the explosion.

R. M. Lambie, chief of the state department of mines, left here for Glen Rogers this morning after giving orders to assemble all mine inspectors there.

J. A. Smith, traffic manager of the company, with offices in the Professional building, said early this morning that he had not heard anything of the explosion until informed by the Associated Press.  He said he didn't know whether the mine was operating or not.

Later Mr. Smith refused to see a reporter sending word by a stenographer that he didn't know anything and didn't have anything to say.  This was after Mr. Smith had communicated with the mine headquarters by telephone.

The stenographer said that Carl Scholz, vice president and general manager of the company, and Garred T. Harris, secretary and treasurer, were out of the city.

A man in the office of the Raleigh-Wyoming Coal Company at the main said over the telephone that he did not know how many men were in the mine, how many had been rescued, what was the nature or cause of the explosion, or how many men were engaged in rescue work.  He refused to answer any other questions and cut off the conversation.


Rescue Car Dispatched

Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov. 6. -- A rescue car of the United States Bureau of Mines has been ordered to Glen Rogers, W. Va., the scene of a mine explosion early today.  It was announced at headquarters here.  The car is now located at Almina, W. Va., near Morgantown.  Officials of the bureau said that the car, fully equipped for rescue work, would make the fastest run possible to the scene.


Mining Town Mourns 27 Dead
Charleston Daily Mail, West Virginia
November 7, 1923

Glen Rogers, Nov. 7 -- All is quiet and sorrow today while this mining settlement of the Raleigh-Wyoming Coal Company, nestled among the mountains of Wyoming County, mourned its 27 dead victims of the explosion here yesterday.

Forty-two children this morning are orphans, several of them were babies in arms, and 24 women are widows, mourning.

But it is not the relatives alone who suffer.  Every man here had at least one buddy in the fatal mine and the tragedy of yesterday was brought close home to them all.

Mrs. Joe Gurak, widow of one of the miners, was talking to interpreters this morning in the only tongue she can speak, Polish.  She was told that everything possible would be done for her and her six fatherless children.

Mrs. Harry Wright, who came to this country from Scotland not long ago, was among the mourning with her baby whose father's life was snuffed out as he went to work deep down in the earth yesterday morning.

Father and Son Die

D. E. Hill and son, Dave, met death together.

Three bodies, the last to be recovered, lay in the power house this morning until a train left shortly after 10 o'clock to take them to Mullens where the bodies of the 24 others were taken on a special train late yesterday.

From Mullens, practically all the bodies will be sent to various places at the request of relatives.

Coroner W. S. Thompson, Wyoming County, will conduct an inquest at Mullens next Monday.

It is hardly right to say that this settlement awoke this morning.  It is doubtful if anyone slept.  The awe of the tragedy was too much for them.  But as daylight came over the hills this morning, workmen resumed their labor about the fatal mine shaft where they had left off after the bodies had been taken out at 9:30 o'clock last night.  The mine was cleaned out and later in the morning, R. M. Lambie, chief of the state department of mines and a body of assistants, accompanied by Carl Scholz, vice president and general manager of the company went into the mine.

Mine Still Inactive

There was no other operation about the mine here and there will be none until after the 27 burials.

Many miners went into the building beside the mine this morning to take their last look at the three men who were their friends and fellow workmen.  These bodies, the last to be brought out, were buried beneath six feet of slate and were badly burned and mutilated.

Lee Ott, chairman of the state compensation commission and John T. Meare, chief clerk of the commission, were going over the employment records this morning to expedite relief from the compensation fund for the bereaved relatives.  Governor Morgan was offering his sympathy to the bereaved ones.

Rescue work and checking up of the men who were in the mine was carried on without a hitch.  A complete list of the men who had entered the mine was provided by the company and as the bodies were brought out or as they came out uninjured their names were checked on the list.

Mine Was Inspected

Thomas Holley, the day fire boss, made an inspection early Tuesday and reporting the mine safe, accompanied the day shift of miners into the shaft.

The explosion followed a short time later.  Fire Boss Holley was among the victims of the explosion.

Three cars of coal were loaded from the mine before the explosion took place in the south entry.

As news of the disaster spread, relatives of the day shift miners gathered at the head of the shaft, and for three hours awaited results of the work being accomplished underground by rescue squads sent from the Winding Gulf and New River fields.

Miners at work in other sections of the mine rushed to the south entry when the report and shock of the explosion sounded through the shaft and joined in the work of clearing away the fallen debris under which were buried the bodies of the miners caught in the entry at the time of the explosion.

The rescue workers remained below for three hours before the first of the 27 dead bodies were brought out and carried to the power house.

In view of these precautionary measures company officials were inclined to blame the explosion on the carelessness of an employee, though it was admitted that the blast might have been caused by the ignition of gas from the back fire of a shot or by a spark from short circuited wires.

The List of Dead

Following is the list of the men who met death yesterday morning in the explosion in the mine of the Raleigh-Wyoming Coal Company's operation at Glen Rogers:
  • Thomas Holley, fire boss, white
  • W. A. Cook, white
  • Billy Bowden, white
  • Eula Atliff, white
  • Robert Shurm, colored
  • James Stewart, colored
  • Tom Simms, colored
  • Oscar King, white
  • David Hill, colored
  • C. E. Johnson, white
  • Rufus Turiety, colored
  • Robert Clair, colored
  • Howell Samuels, white
  • Harry Isaac, white
  • Virgil Sturm, son of mine foreman, white
  • Clarence Puckett, white
  • Paul Tatis, white
  • Ernest King, colored
  • William Stokes, white
  • Emil Unger, white
  • Roy Brown, colored
  • S. P. Gurrant, colored
  • Harry Wright, white
  • Joe Gurak, white
  • James Doyle, white
  • William Harrington, white
  • James Robinson, colored



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