Six miners were rescued from the exploded and burning mine after more than 8 hours. Shortly after noon, telephone lines were dropped to the men at the foot of the portal shaft. The miners said they all were burned, one so badly he could take liquids only through a straw. Blankets, first aid equipment and oxygen tanks were then lowered by rope. The first of the trapped miners was brought to the surface in a makeshift oil drum elevator at 2:10 p.m. At half-hour intervals, five other survivors were lifted to safety in the drums.
Six Rescued from Deep Pit near Marianna
Daily Independent, Monessen, Pennsylvania
September 24, 1957
Brownsville, Pa. (UP) -- The bodies of the last two of five miners killed when trapped by a violent explosion 500 feet beneath the earth's surface were brought up today from the depths of a soft coal pit.
Rescuers identified the bodies as those of Joseph Smith, 61, and Stanley Collins, 58, both of Marianna, a small southwestern Pennsylvania community where the sub-surface blast occurred early Monday. Three other bodies were recovered before the last two victims were hauled up at 3:25 a.m., and 4:10 a.m., EDT., today.
The first of the trapped miners was brought to the surface in a makeshift oil drum elevator at 2:10 p.m. At half-hour intervals, five other survivors were lifted to safety in the drums.
All but one of the injured suffered second and third degree burns of the face and hands. Five of the injured were reported in fair condition, the other in poor condition at Washington (Pa.) Memorial Hospital.
Those hospitalized were Mike Knizner, 46; William Nelson, 42; Stanley Majeskyi, 40; John Krupzig, 40; and James Wright, 59, all of Marianna, and Charles Sprowls, 35, Beallsville, Pa. Wright was reported in poor condition and Nelson good.
Monday the bodies of George Demko and Phil Korney, both of Marianna, and George Harmuth, Cannonsburg RD 1, were brought to the surface.
The mine, owned by the Bethlehem Steel Corp. was the scene of a cave-in in 1908 which claimed 145 lives.
The explosion sent clouds of dense smoke billowing over Marianna, located about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.
The first rescue team entered the pit at 8:45 a.m., Monday. They entered an old, played-out shaft four miles from the one in which the men were entombed. But they were forced back 2,000 feet from the cave-in by rock and fire.
Walter Brent, Marianna, said he did not know that work had been cancelled for the day when he drove up.
"I was driving up to the colliery," he said, "when I heard the explosion. I kissed the floorboards and covered my head with my arms."
Communication was established with four survivors within minutes after the explosion. A rope was lowered and the miners tied on a note. It read simply: "Sprowls, Nelson, Majeski and Krupzig."
Shortly after noon, telephone lines were dropped to the men at the foot of the portal shaft. The miners said they all were burned, one so badly he could take liquids only through a straw.
Blankets, first aid equipment and oxygen tanks were then lowered by rope.
Mike Knizner, his hands badly burned was the first survivor pulled to the surface. Majeski, Krupzig, Sprowls and Nelson were then brought up.
Federal and state mine inspectors opened investigations today into the cause of the explosion. State Mine Inspector A. J. Narn refused to speculate on what touched off the tremendous blast.
Eleven workers were trapped in the soft coal pit. All but two were foremen or supervisory personnel who had gone into the shaft to repair a faulty fan.
Because of the faulty fan, which caused poor ventilation, the mine was closed for the day. Otherwise, more than 200 miners would have reported to work on the 7 a.m. shift. The blast occurred at 7:10 a.m. It blew a concrete block structure on the surface to pieces.
The mine elevator, used to carry miners into the pit, was also torn loose. Debris was tossed more than 20 feet into the air on the surface by force of the blast.