Bodies Taken from Ill-Fated No. 1 Mine at Hendersonville
Charleroi Mail, Pennsylvania
March 14, 1917
An even dozen men were killed in the two explosions Tuesday morning that wrecked a large portion of the Henderson No. 1 mine of the Henderson Coal Company at Hendersonville, four miles northeast of Canonsburg. Rescue work is being continued at the mine today, while the final details to prove the identity of those lost are being given attention by Coroner James T. Heffran, who was on the scene early, and other officials.
Four bodies were thought out Tuesday and taken to the McNary morgue in Canonsburg. Four others were located far back in the mine behind a mass of debris and in an area infested by dangerous gas and the dreaded black damp that made rescue work exceedingly hazardous.
Twenty-seven men were in the mine when the explosions came. They were principally day shift cutters, who had gone into the wreckings to have a supply ready for the loaders who would soon follow. The blasts that brought death and destruction in their wake came almost before any had started to work.
Gas that had collected in face No. 1, was generally admitted to have caused the explosion. Whether it was ignited by a defective safety lamp, crossed electric wires, or a spark from a cutting machine could not be told. Mine inspectors, officials of the company and workmen would make no positive statement. "We will have to wait and see," was the response of all when questioned.
United States mine bureau men have been active at the mine in rescue work since Tuesday afternoon when they arrived. State mining inspectors from the nearby districts were summoned, and they have worked steadily, along with other experts.
Coroner Heffran assumed charge of the investigation into the disaster upon his arrival this morning. All Tuesday his office was represented by his deputy, W. H. McNeley.
Immense crowds hovered about the mine opening Tuesday waiting for the first sight of bodies. When the four bodies were brought from the mine a near riot was caused by the anxiety of waiting ones to see and learn the news they feared to know.
State police upon their arrival enforced order. No one was permitted to view the corpses in the condition in which they were first found, following the precedent established at other explosions in the county. First they were removed to the morgue and prepared for identification.
The Tuesday disaster was the first in a Washington County mine since the Cincinnati disaster of 1913 when nearly 100 men met death.