united states mine rescue association Mine Disasters in the United States
Pennsylvania Company Lorentz Mine Explosion and Roof Fall
Penco, West Virginia
January 26, 1907
No. Killed – 12
Terrific Explosion Wrecks Shaft at Lorentz, W. Va.
The Washington Post
January 27, 1907
Weston, W. Va., Jan. 26 -- Five Americans and seven Italians are known to be dead as the result of an explosion of firedamp in the Pennsylvania Company mine at Lorentz, W. Va., near Buckhannon, W. Va., which occurred about 5:30 this afternoon.
Immediately following the explosion the mine caved in, and 100 miners narrowly escaped entombment and probably death.
The bodies of twelve dead men have been recovered, and it is not yet known whether any others met death.
The Americans who were killed are:
The bodies of seven Italians have also been recovered, but as they are known only by numbers their identification is not possible until later.
Were Just Leaving Mine
The explosion occurred just as the day force was leaving the mine. Only a few of the men had reached the surface when, with a terrific report, the firedamp exploded. The mine elevator had just started for the top carrying about twenty, and almost eighty men were still at the bottom of the shaft.
Immediately there was a panic among the men still in the mine. There was but one direction in which they could run, and this was back into the drift. From this direction, however, a strong flow of gas was slowly enveloping them. Almost suffocated, they huddled closely together and cried pitifully up the shaft for assistance.
Several rescuers took possession of the elevator car and quickly ran it down into the shaft. There were accommodations for only about twenty of the men at a time, however, and the foreign miners, who were crazed from fright, fought like demons to board the car, greatly retarding the work of rescue. The car was finally loaded and run to the top.
Unconscious When Rescued
As quickly as possible the elevator continued to make the trips until all the men at the bottom of the shaft were brought to the surface. On the last two trips a majority of the miners were unconscious and had to be carried from the car.
The five Americans and seven Italians, who were killed, were found about 300 feet back in the mine. Apparently the twelve men had been overcome with gas and died as their bodies were not burned.
At 10 o'clock tonight a rescuing party entered the mine to look for additional bodies, but after reaching the bottom of the shaft had to abandon the search.
The officials are endeavoring to prepare a list of the men who escaped from the mine. The work is slow, however, as a majority of the men who escaped are foreigners, who quickly disappeared on gaining the surface.
Frantic With Grief
The explosion attracted a great crowd. Nearly all the miners live in the immediate vicinity, and in a few minutes hundreds of excited people gathered about the shaft. Women and children were almost frantic with grief.
A message was immediately sent to nearby Westonborough, and a special train, bearing physicians and rescuers, was quickly on the scene.
The mine was totally wrecked by a cave-in, which followed the explosion.
It is said if any others lost their lives that it will be many days before their bodies are recovered owing to the accumulation of earth and stone which blockades the mine passage.
The mine, which is owned by Philadelphia capitalists, was opened a year ago, and has been in operation six months. It was equipped with new and modern appliances, and the direct cause of the explosion will not be known until an investigation is made.