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Miners are Entombed in a Tennessee Mine
Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey
December 21, 1895
Chattanooga, Dec. 21. -- Open lamps in a coal mine full of gas tells the cause of the horrible disaster which was visited upon the little town of Dayton. Dayton is a mining town of 4,000 people, located on the Cincinnati Southern railway, about 38 miles from this city. The leading industry is coal mining, and the Dayton Coal and Iron Company, a corporation owned mainly by English shareholders, operates the entire works.
The mines are two in number and are known as "sloping" mines. The opening of the mines is about 1½ miles from the town, and the slope extends almost two miles from the mouth. One hundred and fifty-seven men were employed at the works mining coal. In entry No. 1, the most remote from the mouth, 30 men and boys were at work when the explosion took place. The explosion was terrific. The men in the entries No. 1, 2, 7 and 9 made a break for the mouth. All escaped except Tom Hawkins, whose exit was rendered impossible by the gas and who fell behind his fleeing comrades.
Oscar Hawkins was seriously burned and Jim Tucker and Ed Blackford slightly. In the meanwhile the mine had caved over entry No. 10. The escaping miners rapidly spread the news of the explosion.
Men, women, and children ran to the mouth of the mines crying and moaning. The miners made desperate attempts to reach their brethren, but the afterdamp was too great. Several were overcome by the gaseous atmosphere and had to be carried from the mines. Powerful fans were put to work to pump fresh air into the entry, and finally the rescuing party was able to get close to the scene of the explosion to see the bodies lying in the mine.
A partial list of those in the mine follows:
W. J. Miller
W. J. Alexander
W. H. Davis
The three latter are colored. In addition to these were two negroes not identified. All of these bodies have been recovered.
Chief Engineer Gibson led a party of miners into the main entry, and William McVelis led another rescuing party by way of what is known as the new slope. The choked damp forced the former party to retire, the chief engineer being carried out just as he was almost suffocated.
As nearly as the facts can be ascertained the gas was ignited in entry No. 10 by Tom Hawkins, the gas inspector, while in the performance of his duty. All of the miners in the entry escaped except Hawkins.
General Superintendent V. Ferguson has arrived from New York. Mr. Ferguson said that the men had been working in the mines with lamps, and he supposed the gas had caught these lamps.
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