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Mine Disasters in
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Pocahontas Consolidated Collieries Company
Lick Branch Mine Explosion

Switchback, West Virginia
December 29, 1908
No. Killed 50



See also:   Lick Branch Mine Explosion, Jan. 12, 1909

From the Google News Archives:
(news links open in a separate window)


Successful Rescue

At 11 o'clock p.m., 8 hours after the explosion, eighteen of the entombed men had been taken out of the colliery alive.  They had been stifled by smoke and were not seriously injured enough to make their removal to a hospital necessary.


Gas Kills Twelve West Virginia Miners
The Coshocton Daily Times, Ohio
December 30, 1908

Bluefield, W. Va., Dec. 30. -- Twelve men are known to be dead and probably twenty-five more were entombed as the result of an explosion which occurred in the Lick Branch colliery, owned by the Pocahontas Consolidated Coal company, the largest coal mining concern in southwestern West Virginia.  It is not known exactly how many men were in the mine at the time.

The men leave the mine after what is known as the "run," and but few of the fifty-two at work were in the mine when the explosion occurred.

Eighteen of the entombed men have been taken from the colliery alive.  They had been stifled by the smoke and were not injured seriously enough to make their removal to a hospital necessary.

The management of the property, it is claimed, had provided every device known to mining experience and science to insure safety, and it is thought that the trouble originated in an abandoned but connected working in the western division of the mine.

The little town of Switchback, in which all of the miners who work in the colliery live, was wild with excitement when the news spread that an explosion had taken place, and from all of the neighboring collieries men hurried to the scene to aid in the work of rescue.


Seventeen Known Victims
The Galveston Daily News, Texas
December 30, 1908

Bluefield, W. Va., Dec. 29. -- Twelve men are known to be dead and probably twenty-five more entombed as the result of an explosion which occurred in the Lick Branch colliery, owned by the Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Company, the largest coal mining concern in Southern West Virginia, at 3 o'clock this afternoon.  It is not known exactly how many men were in the mine at the time.  The men leave the mine after what is known as "run," and many of the fifty-two at work today were not in the mine when the explosion occurred.

The known dead are:
Henry Lockhart, colored
Richard Lockhart, colored
James Lockhart, colored
John Brown
John Miller
Kemp Sanders
James Smith, colored
Charles Little
W. T. Little
Clerd Alexander
Peter Kennedy
Russian, name unknown

The three Lockharts were brothers, as were also the two Littles.

At midnight the rescuers reported that they had located five more bodies and it was believed there would not be any more corpses discovered in the mine.

At 11 o'clock tonight eighteen of the entombed men had been taken out of the colliery alive.  They had been stifled by smoke and were not seriously injured enough to make their removal to a hospital necessary.

Among those who managed to crawl out of the death pit was Joseph Espen, who is badly injured.

State Mine Inspectors Phillips, Henry Warner and Grady, who were in the Tug River field, came to the scene of the explosion and took charge of the work of exploring the mine.

The management of the mine, it is claimed, had provided every device known to mining experts and science to insure safety, and it is thought that the trouble originated in an abandoned but congested working in the western division of the mine.

The little town of Switchback, in which all of the miners who worked in the colliery lived, was wild with excitement when the news spread that an accident had taken place, and from all the neighboring collieries men hurried to the scene to aid in the work of rescue.

A special train bearing the officials of the company was sent from Pocahontas to the scene.



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