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Mine Disasters in
the United States


Harco Coal Company
Harco Mine Explosion

Harrisburg, Illinois
August 31, 1921
No. Killed 11



Successful Rescue

Seven miners were rescued after an undisclosed period following an explosion in the Harco Coal Company mine near Harrisburg, Illinois. The men were suffering from the affects of blackdamp and taken to local hospitals.


Eleven Miners Lose Their Lives Because of Blackdamp
September 1, 1921

Harrisburgh, Ill., Aug. 31. -- Twelve men of 434 miners in a mine of the Harco Coal Company at Harco station, near here, are unaccounted for following a mine explosion this afternoon and it is believed they are entombed.

Shortly after 4 o'clock an official of the Harco Company said he believed only seven or eight men were caught underground.  He said that of the approximately 450 men at work, all but a few were warned and got out in time.  He was unable to say in what manner the men believed caught are held.  He described the explosion as caused by gas.

Those miners rescued and who are expected to recover are William Sheely, William Cole, Ed Thomas, and four others whose names were not yet learned.

Volunteer rescue teams were organized by miners but their efforts were futile as blackdamp drove them back from the section of the mine where the men were entombed.


Eleven Bodies Found
Waterloo Times-Tribune
September 1, 1921

Harrisburg, Ill., Aug. 31. -- Eleven dead miners' bodies were brought to the surface of the Harco mine from a depth of 445 feet, and 1,000 feet from the mouth of the mine at 6 o'clock tonight.  The entire number were entombed this afternoon when a dynamite charge in a new coal bed penetrated an old walled room, providing means of escape of blackdamp, which it is believed killed the miners.

A check of the miners at 5:30 o'clock this evening showed that 436 miners had entered the shaft this morning and that all but those dead had been returned to surface.  Warnings after the explosion by miners in a nearby shaft probably saved the lives of those who were sent to the surface.

The crew of 17 miners was engaged in working a new coal bed near an old shaft, which had been walled in, when the driller exploded a charge of dynamite which crushed the old vein walls, and entombed himself and fellow workers, according to the reports from the mine.

The bodies of the dead men are in local morgues tonight and await identification by their respective families.

A special train bearing a United States bureau car was dispatched to the mine within an hour after the accident and was in charge of D. J. Parker, chief of the division of mine rescue cars and stations of the U. S. Bureau of Mines, who was conducting an inspection trip in this vicinity for H. Foster Bain, director of the United States Bureau of Mines.

The deceased:
  • Charles Mosco
  • Michael Mosco
  • George Warwick
  • Herbert Reeder
  • Hiram Brown
  • Charles Goodrich
  • W. J. Lyman
  • John Luther
  • George Hunter
  • Herschel Baughan
  • George Stewart
Seven men who escaped the explosion but are suffering from the affects of blackdamp were taken to local hospitals.  It is believed they will recover.  The mine will be sealed tomorrow by state authorities who will issue a permit after an investigation authorizing the continuance of operations.



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